Stress sensitivity of childhood epilepsy is related to experienced negative life events

Jolien S. van Campen*, Floor E. Jansen, Laurie C. Steinbusch, Marian Joels, Kees P. J. Braun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: To evaluate the effect of stress on seizure frequency in childhood epilepsy, and to assess possible differences between children in whom seizures are precipitated by stress and those in whom they are not. Methods: Parents or caregivers of children with active epilepsy (aged 216 years) were sent questionnaires on developmental and epilepsy characteristics, life-time stress exposure, and the effect of stressful periods and moments of acute stress on seizure frequency in their child. Further information was extracted from patient files. Key Findings: Parents or caregivers of 153 children with a median age of 8.8 years responded to the questionnaires. Thirty-nine percent reported an increase in seizure frequency during periods of stress, with a median increase of 2.5 times the frequency compared to nonstressful periods. Thirty-seven percent reported that seizures were precipitated by acute stress, with stress being a precipitating factor in 33% (median value) of the seizures. Overall, 51% of the patients reported stress sensitivity of seizures. A higher number of negative life events experienced in total life was related to an increase in seizure frequency in stressful periods (odds ratio [OR] 1.3, p = 0.01) as well as to the precipitation of seizures by acute stress (OR 1.3, p = 0.02). Significance: Stress sensitivity is reported in half of the children with epilepsy. Results of this study suggest a relation between experienced negative life events and stress sensitivity of childhood epilepsy. One possible explanation could be that experiencing negative life events may cause a larger response to daily stressors, thereby increasing the likelihood to induce epileptic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1554-1562
Number of pages9
JournalEpilepsia
Volume53
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Epileptic
  • Seizures
  • Pediatric
  • Children
  • Life event
  • PERCEIVED SELF-CONTROL
  • HPA AXIS RESPONSES
  • SEIZURE PRECIPITANTS
  • RISK-FACTOR
  • PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESS
  • PERCEPTION
  • FREQUENCY
  • CHILDREN
  • ADULTS
  • NEUROBIOLOGY

Cite this