Clinical and psychosocial characteristics of children with nonepileptic seizures

Chinta, Sri Sankar; Malhi, Prahbhjot; Singhi, Pratibha; Prabhakar, Sudesh
July 2008
Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology;Jul2008, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p159
Academic Journal
Objective: The aim of this study is to present a comprehensive profile of clinical and psychosocial characteristics of children with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and to assess the short-term outcome of these patients. Materials and Methods: The subjects were consecutive cases of children with a diagnosis of nonepileptic seizures (N=17, mean age = 10.7 years, S.D. = 1.26) and two groups of control groups matched on age and sex: true seizure group and healthy controls. All the children were recruited from the out-patient services of the Department of Pediatrics of a tertiary care teaching hospital in North India. Detailed history taking and clinical examination was done in the case of every child. A standard 18 channel EEG was done in all the children and a video EEG was done in 12 cases of children with nonepileptic seizures. The Childhood Psychopathology Measurement Schedule (CPMS) and Life Events Scale for Indian Children (LESIC) were used to measure the children's emotional and behavioral functioning at home, and the number of life events and the stress associated with these events in the preceding year and the year before that. Short-term outcome was examined three to six months after the diagnosis of nonepileptic seizures was made. Results: Unresponsiveness without marked motor manifestations was the most common "ictal" characteristic of the nonepileptic seizures. Pelvic thrusting, upper and lower limb movements, head movements, and vocalization were observed in less than one-third of the patients. Increased psychosocial stress and significantly higher number of life events in the preceding year were found to characterize children with nonepileptic seizures, as compared to the two control groups. The nonepileptic seizures and true seizures groups had a higher proportion of children with psychopathology scores in the clinically significant maladjustment range, as compared to those in the healthy control group. A majority of the patients (82.4%) either recovered completely or had more than 50% reduction in the frequency of their symptoms, after three to six months of initiation of therapy. Conclusions: Psychosocial stress is common among children with nonepileptic seizures. Confirmatory diagnosis by video EEG, along with prompt psychosocial intervention, often results in a favorable outcome for most children with nonepileptic seizures.


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