Pop culture is generally good at informing people about how many things work. Of course, unless it’s “sexy” or popular, it will most likely get an inaccurate depiction. So most people don’t know what epilepsy, autism, or even OCD people are actually going through, as these conditions are often romanticized by the media.
Society’s real problems start, at least in this instance, when people become ignorant of what others are going through. A very good example of this is related to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, during which researchers found out that controlled epilepsy can still cause serious issues, particularly for kids.
These issues are mostly behavioral and learning disorders, leading to later social and educational problems, and even to other psychological conditions. The start manifesting in the patients’ childhood and keep developing until they are young adults, particularly if left untreated.
According to the study lead author, Anne Berg, a neurology and pediatrics professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine,
Frequency and intensity of seizures remain important predictors of how well a child does into adulthood. But, somewhat to our surprise we also found seizures are by no means the sole influencers of social and educational outcomes among adults with childhood epilepsy.
[…]Physicians caring for those patients should not assume kids are doing fine just because their seizures are under control. Seizures really don’t tell the whole story.
For the study, the team looked at 241 teenagers and children from Connecticut, all of them diagnosed with uncomplicated epilepsy between 1993 and 1997. The participants were tracked for an average of twelve years, as their development was carefully monitored. Unsurprisingly, results weren’t all that great.
Thirty-nine percent of the participants had excellent seizure control (no seizures one year after the diagnosis), twenty-three percent had good seizure control (five years), while some thirty percent had seizure that came and went but responded to medication, and eight percent had drug resistant and recurring seizures.
As they reached their young adulthoods, about 90 percent of the subjects with excellent seizure control either were pursuing a college degree or had a serious job as compared to only 60 percent of those with poor seizure control. The same numbers were applicable for having a drivers’ license.
Unaffected by how well they controlled their seizures, the participants with learning problems were 50 percent less likely to have a job, while other associated disorders like anxiety, ADHD, or depression lowered their chances to finish college by 60 percent and those to live alone by 50 percent.
The study highlights how important screening epilepsy patients, particularly children, for learning problems is, regardless of their level of seizure control. Otherwise, we risk burdening them with further, mostly easily avoidable issues.
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