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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • eczema;
  • food allergies;
  • obesity;
  • seizure disorders

Abstract

Background

Previous studies using animal models suggest an association between allergic disease and epilepsy. We sought to determine whether allergic disease is associated with epilepsy in children.

Methods

We used the 2007–2008 National Survey of Children's Health, a US population-based study of 91 642 children aged 0–17 years to determine the association between the prevalence of epilepsy and allergic disease, including asthma, atopic dermatitis (AD)/eczema, hay fever, and food allergies. Multivariate logistic regression models were constructed that controlled for confounding variables.

Results

The US lifetime prevalence of childhood epilepsy was 1.03% and was significantly associated with older age, male sex, lower household income, family structure and history of brain injury or concussion. Children with ≥1 allergic disease had more epilepsy in their lifetime than nonallergic children (logistic regression, adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 1.79 [1.37–2.33]). Lifetime prevalence (2.30 [1.50–3.52]) and one-year prevalence of asthma (2.00 [1.41–2.84]), AD/eczema (1.73 [1.17–2.56]), hay fever (1.93 [1.41–2.65]) and food allergies (2.69 [1.38–4.01]) were associated with increased odds of ever being diagnosed with epilepsy. Similar results were found for current history of epilepsy. Severe AD/eczema (23.89 [1.34–11.32]) and hay fever (2.46 [1.11–5.41]) were associated with even higher odds of epilepsy compared with mild/moderate disease. As the number of allergic diseases increased, so did the odds of lifetime history and current history of epilepsy.

Conclusions

The US prevalence of epilepsy is associated with allergic diseases in children. Further studies are needed to determine whether allergic inflammation contributes toward epileptogenesis.