Intelligence in childhood epilepsy syndromes

Epilepsy Res. 2003 Feb;53(1-2):139-50. doi: 10.1016/s0920-1211(02)00261-9.


Intellectual deficits play a significant role in the psychosocial comorbidity of children with epilepsy. Early educational intervention is critical.

Objective: This study aims to determine the intellectual ability of children with common childhood epilepsy syndromes-generalised idiopathic epilepsy (GIE), generalised symptomatic epilepsy (GSE), temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE), central epilepsy (CE) and non-localised partial epilepsy (PE).

Methods: A prospective consecutive series of 169 children were recruited. Epilepsy syndrome was identified by clinical data, seizure semiology, interictal and ictal EEG in each child, using International League Against Epilepsy criteria. Each child had neuropsychology assessment using age-normed and validated instruments. After adjusting for important epilepsy variables, 95% confidence intervals were generated for mean full-scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) using ANCOVA.

Results: Significant differences between epilepsy syndrome groups were found for age of onset (P<0.001), duration of active epilepsy (P=0.027), seizure frequency (P=0.037) and polytherapy (P=0.024). Analysing FSIQ, children with GIE, CE and TLE performed best, and did not differ statistically. Children with GSE had a statistically lower FSIQ than other syndrome groups except PE. FLE functioned significantly better than GSE, but did not differ statistically from other groups.

Conclusions: In childhood epilepsy, delineation of the syndrome has important implications when considering intellectual potential. This information is invaluable in planning educational interventions and supporting the family.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / classification
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seizures / epidemiology