February 7, 2022

Sleep Disorders and ADHD Symptoms in Children and Adolescents with Typical Absence Seizures: An Observational Study

Abstract found in PubMed and originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objective: To assess the occurrence of sleep disorders (SD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children with typical absence seizures (TAS) compared to control children and to evaluate the impact of epilepsy-related factors on sleep and attention in children with TAS.

Methods: The Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children (SDSC) and the ADHD rating scale were filled in by parents of a cohort composed by 82 children aged from 5 to 15.6 years, 49% of boys (41 with TAS with a syndromic diagnosis of childhood absence epilepsy and 41 controls). For children with TAS, the Pediatric Epilepsy Side Effects Questionnaire was completed. Statistical analyses were conducted in order to compare sleep and attention scores between groups. In children with TAS, a correlation was computed between these scores. Logistics regression models were conducted to identify predictors of excessive diurnal sleepiness and inattention in children with TAS.

Results: Compared to controls, children with TAS had higher total scores for subjective sleep (mean 42.9 vs 38.3, p = 0.05) and attention disorders (mean 16.8 vs 11.6, p = 0.01), especially for excessive diurnal sleepiness (mean 3.9 vs 3.2, p = 0.02) and inattention (mean 9.3 vs 5.6, p = 0.003) components. In children with TAS, sleep problems were significantly under-reported by parents. Sleep disorders symptoms as breathing-related sleep disturbance, excessive diurnal sleepiness or naps at or after 7 years of age were reported. Subjective sleep and attention disorders were significantly correlated (r = 0.43, p = 0.01). Subjective excessive diurnal sleepiness may be the result of a polytherapy (p = 0.05) or a side effect of anti-seizure medication (ASM) (p = 0.03) but children without medication side effects also reported subjective SD. In children with TAS, the risk of inattention symptoms was increased in boys (p = 0.02), with a high BMI (p = 0.05), or with ASM side effects (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that children with typical absence seizures (TAS) are at risk of sleep and attention disorder symptoms. If attention disorders in a context of epilepsy are now widely assessed and identified, sleep disorders are still under-estimated. An accurate identification and management of sleep disorders could improve academic performances, quality of life, and seizure management in children with TAS.