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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2001 Jun;40(6):696-703.

Aggression and psychiatric comorbidity in children with hypothalamic hamartomas and their unaffected siblings.

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Catholic University, Wshington, DC, USA.



To assess aggression and psychiatric comorbidity in a sample of children with hypothalamic hamartomas and gelastic seizures and to assess psychiatric diagnoses in siblings of study subjects.


Children with a clinical history of gelastic seizures and hypothalamic hamartomas (n = 12; age range 3-14 years) had diagnoses confirmed by video-EEG and head magnetic resonance imaging. Structured interviews were administered, including the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents-Revised Parent Form (DICA-R-P), the Test of Broad Cognitive Abilities, and the Vitiello Aggression Scale. Parents were interviewed with the DICA-R-P about each subject and a sibling closest in age without seizures and hypothalamic hamartomas. Patients were seen from 1998 to 2000.


Children with gelastic seizures and hypothalamic hamartomas displayed a statistically significant increase in comorbid psychiatric conditions, including oppositional defiant disorder (83.3%) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (75%). They also exhibited high rates of conduct disorder (33.3%), speech retardation/learning impairment (33.3%), and anxiety and mood disorders (16.7%). Significant rates of aggression were noted, with 58% of the seizure patients meeting criteria for the affective subtype of aggression and 30.5% having the predatory aggression subtype. Affective aggression was significantly more common (p < .05). Unaffected siblings demonstrated low rates of psychiatric pathology on semistructured parental interview and no aggression as measured by the Vitiello Aggression Scale.


Children with hypothalamic hamartomas and gelastic seizures had high rates of psychiatric comorbidity and aggression. Parents reported that healthy siblings had very low rates of psychiatric pathology and aggression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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