Does short-term antiepileptic drug treatment in children result in cognitive or behavioral changes?

Epilepsia. 1998 Oct;39(10):1064-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1998.tb01291.x.


Purpose: To determine possible cognitive and behavioral effects of antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy by assessing children with newly diagnosed epilepsy before and after initiation of treatment. A comparison group of children with diabetes mellitus (DM) was included to control for the effects of practice, maturation, and chronic illness.

Methods: Baseline neuropsychological assessments were completed for children with epilepsy (n = 37) and children with DM (n = 26) recruited through outpatient clinics at a regional children's hospital. Children were reevaluated 6 months from baseline testing. At follow-up, children with epilepsy had therapeutic AED levels and controlled seizures. Statistical analysis included a between-group repeated measures ANCOVA with pretest scores serving as the covariate.

Results: Significant differences between groups were not found for any cognitive or behavioral factors, including attention (p < 0.24), immediate memory (p < 0.24), delayed memory (p < 0.10), complex motor speed (p < 0.19), or behavior problems (p < 0.89).

Conclusions: Changes in performance on cognitive and behavioral measures were not different for children treated with AEDs and controls. Although adverse effects may be associated with prolonged treatment, results would not suggest adverse effects from AED monotherapy during the first 6 months of therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / drug effects*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / chemically induced
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Neuropsychological Tests


  • Anticonvulsants