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Risk factors for learning problems in youth with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures

Doss, J.; Caplan, R.; Siddarth, P.; Bursch, B.; Falcone, T.; Forgey, M.; Hinman, K.; Curt LaFrance, W., Jr.; Laptook, R.; Shaw, R.; Weisbrot, D.; Willis, M.; Plioplys, S.

Epilepsy Behav. 2017 Apr 21; 70(Pt A):135-139


OBJECTIVES: This study examined the risk factors for learning problems (LP) in pediatric psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) and their specificity by comparing psychopathology, medical, cognitive/linguistic/achievement, bullying history, and parent education variables between subjects with PNES with and without LP and between subjects with PNES and siblings with LP. METHODS: 55 subjects with PNES and 35 siblings, aged 8-18years, underwent cognitive, linguistic, and achievement testing, and completed somatization and anxiety sensitivity questionnaires. A semi-structured psychiatric interview about the child was administered to each subject and parent. Child self-report and/or parent report provided information on the presence/absence of LP. Parents also provided each subject's medical, psychiatric, family, and bullying history information. RESULTS: Sixty percent (33/55) of the PNES and 49% (17/35) of the sibling subjects had LP. A multivariable logistic regression demonstrated that bullying and impaired formulation of a sentence using a stimulus picture and stimulus word were significantly associated with increased likelihood of LP in the PNES youth. In terms of the specificity of the LP risk factors, a similar analysis comparing LP in the youth with PNES and sibling groups identified anxiety disorder diagnoses and bullying as the significant risk factors associated with LP in the PNES youth. CONCLUSIONS: These findings emphasize the need to assess youth with PNES for LP, particularly if they have experienced bullying, have linguistic deficits, and meet criteria for anxiety disorder diagnoses.

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