The respiratory control of carbon dioxide in children and adolescents referred for treatment of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures
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CitationKozlowska, Kasia, Reena Rampersad, Catherine Cruz, Ubaid Shah, Catherine Chudleigh, Samantha Soe, Deepak Gill, Stephen Scher, and Pascal Carrive. 2017. “The respiratory control of carbon dioxide in children and adolescents referred for treatment of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.” European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 26 (10): 1207-1217. doi:10.1007/s00787-017-0976-0. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00787-017-0976-0.
AbstractPsychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) are a common problem in paediatric neurology and psychiatry that can best be understood as atypical responses to threat. Threats activate the body for action by mediating increases in arousal, respiration, and motor readiness. In previous studies, a range of cardiac, endocrine, brain-based, attention-bias, and behavioral measures have been used to demonstrate increases in arousal, vigilance, and motor readiness in patients with PNES. The current study uses respiratory measures to assess both the motor readiness of the respiratory system and the respiratory regulation of CO2. Baseline respiratory rates during clinical assessment and arterial CO2 levels during the hyperventilation component of routine video electroencephalogram were documented in 60 children and adolescents referred for treatment of PNES and in 50 controls. Patients showed elevated baseline respiratory rates [t(78) = 3.34, p = .001], with 36/52 (69%) of patients [vs. 11/28 (39%) controls] falling above the 75th percentile (χ 2 = 6.7343; df = 1; p = .009). Twenty-eight (47%) of patients [vs. 4/50 (8%) controls] showed a skewed hyperventilation-challenge profile—baseline PCO2 <36 mmHg, a trough PCO2 ≤ 20 mmHg, or a final PCO2 <36 mmHg after 15 min of recovery—signaling difficulties with CO2 regulation (χ 2 = 19.77; df = 1; p < .001). Children and adolescents with PNES present in a state of readiness-for-action characterized by high arousal coupled with activation of the respiratory motor system, increases in ventilation, and a hyperventilation-challenge profile shifted downward from homeostatic range. Breathing interventions that target arousal, decrease respiratory rate, and normalize ventilation and arterial CO2 may help patients shift brain–body state and avert PNES episodes. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00787-017-0976-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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