Psychiatric and behavioural disorders in children with epilepsy (ILAE Task Force Report): Behavioural and psychiatric disorders associated with epilepsy syndromes

Frank Besag, Giuseppe Gobbi, Albert Aldenkamp, Rochelle Caplan, David Dunn, Matti Sillanpää

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


The categorisation of the childhood epilepsies into a number of different syndromes has allowed greater insight into the prognosis, not only with regard to seizure control but also in relation to cognitive and behavioural outcome. The role of genetics in determining both the syndrome and the behavioural outcome remains promising, although the promise is still largely unfulfilled. The behavioural/psychiatric outcome of a selection of the large number of childhood epilepsy syndromes is presented. The rate of autism in West syndrome, particularly in children who have tuberous sclerosis with temporal tubers, is high. In Dravet syndrome there is a loss of skills, with an associated increase in behavioural problems. The frequency of both subtle and overt seizures in the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome almost certainly accounts for the apparent poor motivation; however, a marked improvement in seizure control with treatment can also result in behavioural problems, probably as a result of the "release phenomenon". A number of cognitive problems can arise in the socalled "benign" syndrome of epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS) and the rate of ADHD is high. Autistic features and ADHD have been described in the Landau-Kleffner syndrome and other syndromes associated with electrical status epilepticus of slow-wave sleep (ESES). Early effective treatment may reverse some of these features. There is clear evidence for a behavioural syndrome in relation to juvenilemyoclonic epilepsy (JME), in which both clinical descriptions and functional neuroimaging indicate frontal lobe deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S37-S48
JournalEpileptic Disorders
StatePublished - May 1 2016



  • Dravet syndrome
  • Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy
  • Landau-Kleffner syndrome
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
  • Rolandic
  • West syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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