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Epilepsy Behav. 2019 Aug;97:22-28. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2019.05.012. Epub 2019 Jun 7.

Vulnerabilities to antiepileptic drug (AED) side effects in youth with epilepsy.

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Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA. Electronic address:
Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA.
Children's Hospital of Orange County, Orange, CA, USA.



The objective of the study was to investigate the relationship between sociodemographic, seizure-related, behavioral health, and antiepileptic drug (AED) adverse effect variables. The aim of this study was to examine whether there were significant differences on AED adverse effects between youth with normative and subclinical/clinical depressive and/or anxiety symptoms.


As part of a larger multisite validation study, 231 youth age 5 to 18 years diagnosed with epilepsy and their caregivers were recruited to participate for the current study. Youth ages 8 and older and caregivers of all youth completed the Behavior Assessment System for Children-2 (BASC-2). Caregivers also completed the Pediatric Epilepsy Side Effects Questionnaire (PESQ) and a Background Questionnaire. Medical chart review provided information regarding epilepsy diagnosis and treatment.


No differences were observed in the mean scores on AED adverse effects between the group with subclinical/clinical BASC-2 Depressive symptoms and those with average/low depressive symptoms. In contrast, the proportion of youth with subclinical/clinical versus average/low depressive symptoms via caregiver report was significantly different for the cognitive, behavioral, general neurological, and total scale of the PESQ. There was also a larger proportion of youth with self-reported subclinical/clinical depressive symptoms who experienced general neurological adverse effects compared with youth with average/low depressive symptoms who experienced general neurological adverse effects. Findings were consistent for anxiety symptoms.


Identifying potentially modifiable behavioral health symptoms that exacerbate the expression of AED adverse effects could provide alternative solutions for improved AED tolerability to achieve optimum treatment outcomes.


Adverse drug effects; Antiepileptic drugs; Anxiety symptoms; Behavioral health; Depressive symptoms; Pediatric epilepsy

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