Cognitive and behavioral effects of new antiepileptic drugs in pediatric epilepsy

Romina Moavero, Marta Elena Santarone, Cinzia Galasso, Paolo Curatolo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background In pediatric epilepsy, neurodevelopmental comorbidities could be sometimes even more disabling than seizures themselves, therefore it is crucial for the clinicians to understand how to benefit these children, and to choose the proper antiepileptic drug for the treatment of epilepsy associated to a specific neurodevelopmental disorder. Aim of this paper is to discuss the potential impact on cognition and behavior of new and newest AEDs and to guide the choice of the clinicians for a targeted use in epilepsy associated with specific neurodevelopmental disorders. Methods Information in this review is mainly based on peer-reviewed medical publications from 2002 until October 2016 (PubMed). We choose to include in our review only the AEDs of second and third generation approved for pediatric population. Results Vigabatrin, lamotrigine, topiramate, levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, zonisamide, rufinamide, lacosamide, eslicarbazepine, and perampanel have been included in this review. The most tolerated AEDs from a cognitive and behavioral point of view are lamotrigine and rufinamide, thus representing optimal drugs for children with cognitive and/or attention problems. Discussion Most of the new AEDs are initially licensed for adult patients. Data on children are usually very limited, both in terms of efficacy and safety, and the use standardized cognitive and behavioral outcome measures are very limited in pediatric clinical trials. Conclusion Several factors including polytherapy, administration of AEDs with the same mechanism of action and the dose and titration of the drug, should be considered as important in the development of cognitive and behavioral side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-469
Number of pages6
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Behavior
  • Children
  • Cognition
  • Epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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