Certain anti-epileptic drugs affect children cognitively: Know which ones they are

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Certain anti-epileptic drugs affect children cognitively: Know which ones they are

Note from NeuropsychologySA: If you are assessing a child that is on anti-epileptic medication, find out what type it is.  If the main ingredient is divalproex sodium (for e.g. in Depakote) or topiramate (for e.g. in Topamax), there is a likelihood that the child you are testing will demonstrate weaker working memory and verbal fluency, due to the medication.  


The objective of this study was to assess cognitive performance and behavioral symptoms in a sample of children diagnosed with partial epilepsy who were seizure controlled on AED monotherapy for one year. Ninety-eight seizure-controlled children on AED monotherapy were included in this study. Specific AEDs examined included topiramate, divalproex sodium, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, and oxcarbazepine. Groups did not differ on age, region of focal epilepsy, or Full-Scale IQ. Direct measures included the WISC-IV and selected tests from the DKEFS (Verbal Fluency and Trail Making Test). Parent report measures included the BRIEF and the BASC-PRS. A series of ANOVAs revealed significant differences across the AED cohorts within many domains of cognitive functioning and behavioral presentation. Children prescribed divalproex sodium or topiramate demonstrated weaker working memory and verbal fluency, when compared with children prescribed other AEDs. Additionally, parents of children prescribed topiramate reported greater executive functioning and adaptive skills deficits. The pattern of findings suggests that children prescribed divalproex sodium or topiramate generally demonstrated a higher risk of cognitive and behavioral impairments compared to the other AEDs. Future prospective studies are required in order to better understand the relationship between AED type and these outcomes to inform clinical practice

Journal: Applied Neuropsychology: Child
Published online: 25 Oct 2016

Authors: Thomas G. Burns, Natasha N. Ludwig, Tiffany N. Tajiri & Nick DeFilippis

Article Title: Cognitive and behavioral outcomes among seizure-controlled children with partial epilepy on antiepilaptic drug monotherapy

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21622965.2016.1241177