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Thursday, 22 May 2003

Positive Outcomes for Childhood Epilepsy

Research conducted by the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick has found that defining epilepsy in childhood has important implications when considering intellectual potential. This information is crucial in planning educational interventions and supporting the family.

Epilepsy occurs at a rate of one in every hundred persons in the Australian community. In childhood, it is a common clinical problem with frequent associated social and learning difficulties. The research looked at six common childhood epilepsy syndromes.

Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick is a world leader in assessing the impact of childhood epilepsy and its treatment on life function.

The research recently published in the Epilepsy Research Journal, 53 (2003) 139-150, found the determination of a child's specific epilepsy syndrome is fundamental in not only the clinical management of patients with epilepsy but in determining the primary intellectual characteristics of each syndrome.

There are significant differences in intellectual ability for the different epilepsy syndrome groups.

'We looked at a group of 169 children. The objective of the study was to analyse a broad group of children with different epilepsy syndromes in order to compare intellectual ability', said Prof. Anne Cunningham, Head of Research at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

'This is the first large study comparing intellectual ability of children, from a broad age range with generalised epilepsy or non-localised partial epilepsy.'

'In childhood, it is crucial to recognise intellectual deficits early so that appropriate educational interventions can be arranged.'

'The study has found that defining the epilepsy syndrome at diagnosis has broad implications for the degree of intellectual disability in childhood epilepsy.'

'Families can be alerted and supported as to these effects so that intervention can happen earlier. This will assist in achieving positive outcomes in education, employment and personal relationships,' said Prof Cunningham.

For Further Information Contact:

Amy McIntosh, Public Affairs Officer Tel: 9382 3578 - Mob: 0411 730 842

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