Disadvantage and neurocognitive comorbidities in childhood idiopathic epilepsies

William A. Schraegle, Rebecca F. Slomowitz, Carson Gundlach, David A. Hsu, Dace N. Almane, Carl E. Stafstrom, Michael Seidenberg, Jana E. Jones, Bruce P. Hermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study was undertaken to characterize the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and cognitive function as well as clinical, sociodemographic, and family factors in children with new onset idiopathic epilepsy and healthy controls. Methods: Research participants were 288 children aged 8–18 years with recent onset epilepsy (CWE; n = 182; mean age = 12.2 (Formula presented.) 3.2 years), healthy first-degree cousin controls (HC; n = 106; mean age = 12.5 (Formula presented.) 3.0), and one biological or adopted parent per child (n = 279). All participants were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery (reasoning, language, memory, executive function, motor function, and academic achievement). Family residential addresses were entered into the Neighborhood Atlas to determine each family's Area Deprivation Index (ADI), a metric used to quantify income, education, employment, and housing quality. A combination of parametric and nonparametric (χ2) tests examined the effect of ADI by group (epilepsy and controls) across cognitive, academic, clinical, and family factors. Results: Disadvantage (ADI) was equally distributed between groups (p =.63). For CWE, high disadvantage was associated with lower overall intellectual quotient (IQ; p =.04), visual naming/expressive language (p =.03), phonemic (letter) fluency (p <.01), passive inattention (omission errors; p =.03), delayed verbal recall (p =.04), and dominant fine motor dexterity and speed (p <.01). Cognitive status of the HC group did not differ by level of disadvantage (p =.40). CWE exhibited greater academic difficulties in comparison to HC (p <.001), which were exacerbated by disadvantage in CWE (p =.02) but not HC (p <.05). High disadvantage was associated with a threefold risk for academic challenges prior to epilepsy onset (odds ratio = 3.31, p =.024). Significance: Socioeconomic hardship (increased neighborhood disadvantage) exerts a significant adverse impact on the cognitive and academic status of youth with new and recent onset epilepsies, an impact that needs to be incorporated into etiological models of the neurobehavioral comorbidities of epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1663-1672
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • academics
  • cognition
  • comorbidity
  • epilepsy
  • neighborhood
  • pediatric
  • poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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