Behavioral problems of siblings of epileptic children in Enugu

  • AE Aronu
  • SO Iloeje
Keywords: Childhood epilepsy, behavior problems, siblings


Background and Objective: The existence of a psychosocial dysfunction in the siblings of children with chronic illness has been documented. There are very few reports on siblings of children with epilepsy. The aim of this study is to investigate to what extent the children’s epilepsy has affected their healthy siblings in our own center.
Materials and Methods: Epileptic patients who consecutively referred to the Pediatric Neurology Clinic of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, from October 1999 to September 2000 were recruited. Demographic data were obtained, with a questionnaire administered to the parents. Information on the behavior of the school-age siblings and control was obtained by the class teachers using Rutter’s behavior scale (B2) for children (Teacher’s Scale).
Results: One hundred and fifty-six children with epilepsy, of age four to fifteen years, 124 males and 32 females, with a Male: Female ratio of 4: 1, were recruited; and 156 school-age siblings of the epileptic children (index children) and 156 controls were studied. Prevalence of behavioral problems was 38.5 and 15.4%, respectively, among the index and control children (P < 0.001). There was no significant sex difference in the two groups. There was a significant difference in the distribution of the types of behavior problems between the index and controls (P < 0.05). The duration of epilepsy did not affect the prevalence of behavior problems (P < 0.05), but seizure control had a significant effect on the prevalence of behavior problems (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Siblings of children with epilepsy have more behavioral disturbances than controls. A strong association was found between poor seizure control and the prevalence of behavioral problems.

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