Behavioral side-effects of levetiracetam in children with epilepsy: A systematic review

Elisabeth Halma, Anton J.A. De Louw, Sylvia Klinkenberg, Albert P. Aldenkamp, Dominique M. Ijff, Marian Majoie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose Children with epilepsy are more likely to have behavioral problems compared to children without epilepsy. Literature suggests that levetiracetam leads to behavioral side-effects in children with epilepsy. The objective of this study is to provide a better overview of the frequency and variety of behavioral side-effects, which can be initiated by levetiracetam therapy in children with epilepsy. Method Electronic databases used in the search were PubMed, Medline, Cochrane and Embase. Studies were eligible for inclusion when they included children from one month to 18 years of age with a diagnosis of epilepsy, used levetiracetam, had other AEDs on a stable regimen for at least two months, reported about behavioral side-effects and had a follow-up of at least two weeks. Quality assessments and data collection were carried out for all eligible studies. Results Thirteen studies, including 727 patients using levetiracetam, were included in this systematic review. Three randomized controlled trials showed a total of 62 behavioral side-effects in 203 patients, effects which led to discontinuation of levetiracetam in only two of 102 patients (2.0%). Hostility, nervousness and aggression were reported mostly. Meta-analysis showed a statistically significant relative risk of 2.18 for the total number of behavioral side-effects for levetiracetam versus placebo. Observational studies showed mixed results with both behavioral deteriorations and improvements following levetiracetam. Conclusion Based on the findings in this systematic review, children using levetiracetam have a risk of developing several behavioral side-effects such as aggression, hostility and nervousness compared to children who do not use levetiracetam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-691
Number of pages7
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Anti-epileptic drugs
  • Behavior
  • Behavioral problems
  • Children
  • Epilepsy
  • Levetiracetam


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