Problem: Fifty million people worldwide have epilepsy of whom 33 million are children. Children and adolescents with epilepsy are known to have high rates of behaviour problems and psychiatric co-morbidity. No studies on this topic have been conducted in developing countries, although 90% of such children live in the developing world.
Methods: The current study, set in Vellore in India, assessed the prevalence of psychopathology and its associations in children and adolescents with seizure disorder. One hundred and thirty two children were rated for psychopathology on the Child Behaviours Check List, and those who qualified as psychiatric cases were compared with those who did not.
Results: Seizure disorder was associated with significant psychopathology in 53.8% children. Belonging to a higher income group and living in an urban area (OR: 7.61, 95% CI: 2.78-20.8, p=0.0001), having longer than 3 years of illness (OR: 2.39, 95% CI: 2.18-5.67, p=0.03) and being treated by more than one anti-epileptic drug (OR: 3.08, 95% CI: 1.09-8.72, p=0.03) independently predicted psychopathology.
Conclusions: Psychopathology reflected a complex interaction of seizures, socio-demographic factors and treatment related variables, in accord with studies in industrialised countries. Clinicians should be sensitive to identifying psychopathology since this may lead to effective interventions for this group of children.