Teacher assessment of behaviour in children with new-onset seizures

David W. Dunn, Jaroslaw Harezlak, Walter T. Ambrosius, Joan K. Austin, Bradford Hale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Rationale: Recent data suggest that children with new-onset seizures may be at increased risk for behaviour problems. Teachers are an excellent source of data about such problems. They do not have the potential bias that a parent worried about a new onset of seizures might have and, furthermore, they are accustomed to comparing performance of children and work in an environment in which the behavioural problems associated with epilepsy may be quite evident. We obtained teachers' reports of behaviour problems in children in the 2 months prior to their first recognized seizure. We also obtained similar data on children with new-onset, moderate severity asthma. In addition to comparing behavioural scores between children with seizures and children with asthma, we compared teachers' assessments of behaviour in children with no prior seizures to those of children with previously unrecognized seizures. Methods: We evaluated 192 children with new-onset seizures, including 129 children with no prior episodes and 63 children with recognized prior seizure-like episodes. The comparison group consisted of 78 children with new-onset, moderate severity asthma. Behaviour was assessed by the teacher's report form (TRF) of the child behaviour checklist (CBCL) or the caregiver-teacher report form for ages 2-5 (C-TRF). Mean scores were compared by two-sample t-tests and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results: The children with new-onset seizures had more thought problems than children with asthma. In comparison to children with no prior seizures, the children with prior unrecognized seizures had higher scores in total behaviour problems, internalizing problems, somatic complaints, anxious/depressed, thought problems, and attention problems. Conclusions: In this sample, children with prior unrecognized seizures were already at increased risk of teacher-rated behaviour problems before starting medication and before any possible stigma effects related to seizures. This sequence suggests underlying neurological problems causing both behavioural problems and seizures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Behaviour
  • Childhood
  • Epilepsy
  • New-onset seizures
  • Teacher report from (TRF)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)

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