More EEG scans should be given to children with language impairments to test for epilepsy.
A study at the Queen Silvia Children's Hospital in Gothenburg has revealed that epileptic activity in the brain can affect language development in children. For that reason, a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg recommends that EEG registrations should be carried out more frequently on children with severe language impairment to identify those who need medical treatment.
The Swedish thesis studied 60 children of varying ages who had language dysfunctions, another group with epilepsy, and a third with both. The study showed that epilepsy (with seizures) and epileptic brain activity with or without seizures were more common in these children than in children in general.
Children with residual speech and language problems at starting school had other underlying problems, said Gunilla Rejnö-Habte Selassie, pathologist and researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation.
"So we also looked at speech and language ability in preschool children with various forms of epilepsy," says Selassie. "We found that these children had certain language problems. They found it difficult to express themselves but had a good understanding of language."
The greatest problems were to be found in children with epileptic activity in the left side of the brain, which controls our linguistic ability.
"More than half the children of school age and young adults still had some form of language difficulties, while a few had normal linguistic abilities," says Selassie.
Besides EEG registrations to explain underlying mechanisms so care and treatment can be given, she says medical treatment could be considered in some cases to block the epileptic activity in the brain and reduce the impact on a child's language development.