• Epilepsy;
  • Mortality;
  • Seizures;
  • Child;
  • Australia

Summary: Summary: We used the records of a statewide pediatric mortality surveillance system to determine mortality rates and causes of death in children with epilepsy. Of the 1,095 children aged 1–14 years who died in the state of Victoria during the study period 1985–1989,93 had a history of epilepsy. Six children (6%) had primary epilepsy, and 87 (94%) had secondary epilepsy. Death was (a) directly attributable to epilepsy in 20 (22%), including 11 with sudden unexplained death, (b) not directly attributable to epilepsy in 59 (63%), and (c) of undetermined cause in 14 (15%). No classifiable death occurred as a direct result of status epilepticus. The average annual mortality rates for children with epilepsy were (a) death from all causes, 30.6 in 10,000 [95% confidence interval (CI) 19.7, 47.51, and (b) death attributable to epilepsy, 6.6 in 10,000 (95% CI 3.7, 11.8). Relative to the all-cause mortality rate in children without epilepsy, the all-cause mortality rate ratios were (a) all children with epilepsy, 13.2 (95% CI 8.5, 20.7); (b) primary epilepsy, 1.1 (95% CI 0.5, 2.6); and (c) secondary epilepsy, 49.7 (95% CI 31.7, 77.9). The mortality rate ratios for secondary epilepsy relative to primary epilepsy were (a) death from all causes, 43.5 (95% CI 19.0, 99.5); and (b) death attributable to epilepsy, 9.0 (95% CI 3.3, 24.8). Epilepsy appeared on the death certificate of only 11 of 20 (55%) children whose deaths were attributable to epilepsy. We conclude that (a) there was an increased risk of death during childhood in children with epilepsy; (b) the risk of death was greatest for children with secondary epilepsy; (c) potentially preventable, epilepsy-related deaths occurred in children with primary epilepsy; (d) sudden unexplained death accounted for at least 12% of deaths; and (e) death certification was deficient with respect to recording of epilepsy.