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ADHD more prevalent in children with epilepsy, says review

A paper published by Indiana University, reviewing multiple studies, says that ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is more prevalent in children with epilepsy than in their peers without epilepsy.


Some children with ADHD may be diagnosed as predominantly inattentive, while others are predominantly hyper­active or impulsive. Some are diagnosed with a combination of both..

Researchers have found that children with epilepsy are more likely to be diagnosed as inattentive.

The study found that some aspects of epilepsy and its treatment could contribute to ADHD symptoms. For example, children with complicated epilepsy may be at greater risk for ADHD, and some antiepileptic medications are known to contribute to ADHD symptoms.  

However, scientists concluded that, because ADHD symptoms may be seen before the diagnosis of epilepsy, seizures are not likely to be the sole cause of increased prevalence of ADHD.

The research demonstrated the importance of ADHD medication treatment both in healthy children and those with epilepsy, as ADHD is linked with worse long-term academic outcome.  While the study found there may be an increased risk of seizures in patients treated for ADHD, the benefits were found to outweigh the risks.

The paper concluded that research into the subject should continue, especially testing the efficacy and seizure effects of drugs used to treat ADHD.