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Epilepsy Behav. 2008 Feb;12(2):217-33. Epub 2007 Dec 11.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in pediatric patients with epilepsy: review of pharmacological treatment.

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Department of Neurology, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children with epilepsy is a common source of impairment. Based on review of Medline indexed articles, meeting abstracts, and data requested from drug manufacturers, a summary of evidence that might guide treatment and research is presented. Methylphenidate (MPH) has shown high response rates and no increase in seizures in small trials. However, low baseline seizure rates, small numbers of subjects, and short observation periods limit the power of these studies to detect increases in seizure risk. Although longer-term effects of MPH and its effects in children with frequent seizures need to be studied, the evidence available at this time best supports use of MPH for the treatment of ADHD not amenable to changes in antiepileptic drugs or improvements in seizure control. This treatment should be part of a biopsychosocial approach. Other agents show promise. Preclinical, retrospective and open-label studies on amphetamines and atomoxetine support undertaking randomized controlled studies of these agents in patients with ADHD plus epilepsy. In contrast, additional data on guanfacine and modafinil should be gathered before undertaking randomized controlled studies with these agents.

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