Introduction: Levetiracetam (LEV) is an effective antiepileptic drug also used in childhood and adolescence. Literature data regarding the long-term effects of LEV in childhood epilepsy and based on extensive neuropsychological evaluations using standardized tools are still scanty. Our study aimed to address this topic.
Materials and methods: We studied 10 patients with epilepsy characterized by focal or generalized seizures (4 boys, 6 girls; mean age: 10 years 8 months; range: 6 years 2 months - 16 years 2 months), treated with adjunctive LEV during a follow-up of 12 months. In 6 patients electroencephalogram (EEG) showed continuous spike and waves during sleep. Using standardized tools, we performed seriated assessments of cognitive and behavioral functioning in relation to seizure and EEG outcome.
Results: Six patients completed the trial after 12 months of treatment; 1 patient dropped out of the study after 9 months, 3 patients after 6 months. Adjunctive LEV was effective on seizures in 3/10 patients and on EEG in 2/10 patients, and was well tolerated in all examined cases. Overall, no worsening of cognitive or behavioral functions has been detected during the period of the study; even at 6 and 12 months from baseline, an improvement in patients' abstract reasoning has been found, that was not related to seizure or EEG outcome.
Conclusions: In our population of children and adolescents, LEV had no adverse cognitive or behavioral effects, short- or long-term. We found an improvement of abstract reasoning, regardless of seizure and EEG outcome.
Keywords: Adolescence; antiepileptic drugs; behavior; childhood; cognitive functions; electroencephalogram; epilepsy; levetiracetam.