• Incidence;
  • Epidemiology;
  • Epilepsy;
  • ILAE classification;
  • Children

Summary:  Purpose: To estimate the incidence rate of epilepsies and epileptic syndromes in German children and adolescents aged 1 month to <15 years, and to provide data on their classification.

Methods: A population-based prospective study was performed between July 1, 1999, and June 30, 2000. All children aged 1 month to <15 years with a newly diagnosed epilepsy or epileptic syndrome were recorded by private pediatricians, EEG laboratories, and the two University Children's Hospitals in the neighboring cities of Heidelberg and Mannheim. The diagnoses were classified according to the International Classification of Epilepsies and Epileptic Syndromes of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).

Results: The total age-adjusted annual incidence rate was 60/100,000 (95% confidence interval, 42–84), with the highest incidence in the first year of life (146/100,000). Focal epilepsies or epileptic syndromes (58%; incidence rate, 35/100,000) were more common than were generalized ones (39%; incidence rate, 24/100,000), and 3% (incidence rate, 2/100,000) of the epilepsies or epileptic syndromes were undetermined. The rate of idiopathic (47%; incidence rate, 29/100,000) and symptomatic or cryptogenic epilepsies (50%; incidence rate, 30/100,000) was equal. No significant difference in incidence between boys and girls was found.

Conclusions: Incidence rates for epilepsy in German children aged 1 month to <15 years are about equal to those of other countries in Europe and North America. In accordance with studies from the United States and from many European countries, incidence was highest in the first year of life, and no difference in the incidence between girls and boys was found. In Germany as throughout Europe, idiopathic generalized epileptic syndromes are more often diagnosed than in the United States.