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Epilepsia. 2001 Feb;42(2):268-74.

Mental retardation in pediatric candidates for epilepsy surgery: the role of early seizure onset.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195, U.S.A.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

We sought to determine whether early age at seizure onset is a risk factor for mental retardation, independent of etiology. Assessment of risk for mental retardation with continued uncontrolled seizures plays a role in considerations of timing for epilepsy surgery. Previous studies have indicated that onset of seizures in the first years of life may be a risk factor for mental retardation, but the etiologies of the epilepsies were not included in the analyses.

METHODS:

Intellectual function was assessed at ages 2-20 years during presurgical evaluation in 100 patients with intractable epilepsy due to focal lesions limited to part of one lobe of the brain. Mental retardation (MR) was defined as Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) < or =70. The age at seizure onset and the seizure frequency were obtained retrospectively.

RESULTS:

Younger ages at seizure onset were associated with lower FSIQ scores, and mean FSIQ was also significantly lower for patients with onset of epilepsy at < or =24 months of age (74.0 +/- 21.5) versus that in patients with onset of epilepsy later in life (87.8 +/- 18.8; p = 0.005). The frequency of patients with MR was significantly higher for patients with seizure onset at < or =24 months of age (15 of 33, 46%) than for patients with seizure onset later in life (eight of 67, 12%; p < 0.001). This difference persisted within etiologic subgroups. For patients with focal malformation of cortical development, MR was seen in eight (50%) of 16 patients with seizure onset at < or =24 months versus two (10%) of 20 patients with seizure onset at >24 months (p < 0.001); for patients with tumor, MR was seen in four (50%) of eight patients with seizure onset at < or =24 months versus four (13%) of 30 patients with seizure onset at >24 months (p = 0.003); and for patients with hippocampal sclerosis, MR was seen in two (28%) of seven patients with seizure onset at < or =24 months versus none of 30 patients with seizure onset at >24 months (NS). Within the subgroup with daily seizures, MR was present in 13 (65%) of 20 patients with seizure onset at < or =24 months versus five (17%) of 29 patients with seizure onset later in life (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

These results indicate that onset of intractable epilepsy within the first 24 months of life is a significant risk factor for MR, especially if seizures occur daily. The risk based on early age at seizure onset appeared independent of etiology and persisted within subgroups of patients with focal malformation of cortical development, tumor, or hippocampal sclerosis. Prospective studies will be important to clarify whether early surgical intervention may reduce the risk for subsequent MR in carefully selected infants.

PMID:
11240601
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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