Multicenter prospective longitudinal study in 34 patients with Dravet syndrome: Neuropsychological development in the first six years of life

Domenica Battaglia, Daniela Chieffo, Simona Lucibello, Carla Marini, Valentina Sibilia, Davide Mei, Francesca Darra, Francesca Offredi, Elena Fontana, Nicola Specchio, Simona Cappelletti, Tiziana Granata, Francesca Ragona, Mara Patrini, Maria G Baglietto, Giulia Prato, Annarita Ferrari, Federico Vigevano, Eugenio Mercuri, Bernardo Dalla Bernardina, Renzo Guerrini, Charlotte Dravet, Francesco Guzzetta
Brain & Development 2021, 43 (3): 419-430
The objective of this study was to identify developmental trajectories of developmental/behavioral phenotypes and possibly their relationship to epilepsy and genotype by analyzing developmental and behavioral features collected prospectively and longitudinally in a cohort of patients with Dravet syndrome (DS). Thirty-four patients from seven Italian tertiary pediatric neurology centers were enrolled in the study. All patients were examined for the SCN1A gene mutation and prospectively assessed from the first years of life with repeated full clinical observations including neurological and developmental examinations. Subjects were found to follow three neurodevelopmental trajectories. In the first group (16 patients), an initial and usually mild decline was observed between the second and the third year of life, specifically concerning visuomotor abilities, later progressing towards global involvement of all abilities. The second group (12 patients) showed an earlier onset of global developmental impairment, progressing towards a generally worse outcome. The third group of only two patients ended up with a normal neurodevelopmental quotient, but with behavioral and linguistic problems. The remaining four patients were not classifiable due to a lack of critical assessments just before developmental decline. The neurodevelopmental trajectories described in this study suggest a differential contribution of neurobiological and genetic factors. The profile of the first group, which included the largest fraction of patients, suggests that in the initial phase of the disease, visuomotor defects might play a major role in determining developmental decline. Early diagnosis of milder cases with initial visuomotor impairment may therefore provide new tools for a more accurate habilitation strategy.

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