Objective: The objective of the study was to assess the influence of gender on psychiatric disorders in children with epilepsy (CWE).
Method: A systematic review of the literature on risk factors for psychiatric disorder in CWE published between 2004 and June 2018 was undertaken. Studies including data on gender that permitted the calculation of a risk ratio (RR) were included in the meta-analysis. A meta-regression was conducted to examine the contribution of setting of the survey and the inclusion of learning disabilities.
Results: Thirty-nine papers were included in the review. The male/female RR in CWE for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was 1.49 (Confidence Interval (CI): 1.24-1.79), autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) 1.67 (CI: 1.47 to 1.90), anxiety 1.00 (CI: 0.90-1.12), and depression 0.93 (CI 0.41-2.09). More boys than girls had ADHD and ASD, but in relative terms, the RR male/female was lower in CWE than the RR in the general population reported in other studies. Meta-regression indicated that the inclusion of children with intellectual disability (mental retardation) or the setting (community vs hospital) did not have a significant impact.
Conclusion: Compared with girls in the general population, girls with epilepsy seem to be at a higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD/ASD as the gender ratio is more equal. This could be related to differences in the assessment of CWE and/or a shared pathogenesis between psychiatric conditions and epilepsy.