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"Are seizures related to aggression in children?"


My 7 year old nephew has petit mal seizures that have affected him since birth, and he is being medicated for them. Since he was 5, he has begun showing a lot of aggression towards other kids, and he's acting out in classrooms. Is this misbehavior possibly related to his seizure condition?


There are several possible causes for your nephew's aggressive symptoms. First, some children who have a seizure disorder experience an aura before the seizure that may include some personality changes. If you notice that his aggression occurs before a seizure, this may be what is going on and it may be an indication to discuss changing his medications with his neurologist.

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Similarly, some children have a 'post-ictal' (post seizure) state after having a seizure that again involves changes in personality. If the aggression is most notable after a seizure, this is again a reason to talk with his neurologist. At the same time, it may be that there is something else entirely going on. Some children with seizure disorders also suffer from additional psychiatric or neurologic conditions. For example, your nephew may be exhibiting symptoms of attention deficit disorder, characterized by hyperactivity, acting out, and trouble with impulse control. This could easily be interpreted as or play out in school as aggression. Other behavioral disorders also, such as oppositional defiant disorder, can be more common in some children with seizures. It sounds like these symptoms are concerning enough that they should be investigated closely. Your nephew's parents may want to begin by discussing this with his pediatrician or neurologist, who may decide a psychiatry referral is also needed.

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