The cognitive and behavioral effects of carbamazepine (CBZ) were evaluated in 10 children (ages 6 to 12 years) with benign rolandic epilepsy at Columbia Prebyterian Medical Center, New York, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, CA. Controls were 14 unmedicated children with migraine. The mean CBZ serum level was 6.4 mcg/ml (range, 3.7-11.6). Higher CBZ blood levels were associated with slower performances on Trail Making Test A, a visual-search task, but the difference was not significant. Significant group differences on psychometric tests were limited to poorer performance on Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning Story Memory and Trail Making Test A. Two subjects had particularly poor scores while treated with CBZ. Significant practice effects in repeat testing emphasized the need for controls. [1]

COMMENT. Children treated with carbamazepine may suffer some adverse effects on memory, and the effects on behavior and cognition should be monitored closely.

See Progress in Pediatric Neurology II. PNB Publ, 1994;pp187-189, and III, 1997;pp146-151, for further articles on the cognitive and behavioral effects of carbamazepine. In one study involving 64 children with epilepsy, serum levels of CBZ showed a significant negative correlation with scores on 5 memory tests, after 6 months treatment and at 1 year. [2]