Prevalence of Epilepsy and Epileptic Seizures in 10-Year-Old Children: Results from the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Study

Authors

  • Catherine C. Murphy,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Battelle
    2. Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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  • Edvin Trevathan,

    1. Children's Epilepsy Center, Scottish Rite Children's Medical Center, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
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  • Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp

    1. Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to C. C. Murphy at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, 4770 Buford Highway, Mailstop F-15, Atlanta, GA 30341, U.S.A.

Abstract

Summary: With reported prevalence rates of 4–9 cases per 1,000 children, childhood epilepsy is a major public health concern. Reported prevalence rates vary, mainly because researchers often use different epilepsy definitions. In addition, total prevalence may be underestimated if incomplete case-ascertainment methods are used. We used a multiple-source case-ascertainment method that included obtaining information from electro-encephalogram laboratories to estimate the prevalence of epilepsy and to classify seizure types among 10–year-old children. In the metropolitan Atlanta (GA, U.S.A.) area, we found a lifetime prevalence of childhood epilepsy of 6 per 1,000 (95% confidence interval, 5. 5–6. 5) 10-year-old children. However, using capture-recapture analysis, this prevalence may be as high as 7. 7 per 1,000. Proportionately more boys than girls had epilepsy. The prevalence did not vary appreciably by race. Partial seizures, including secondarily generalized seizures, were the most common seizure type (58%). Of children with epilepsy, 35% had another developmental disability (mental retardation, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, or hearing impairment). An accurate estimate of the public health burden of childhood epilepsy and determination of possible risk factors for idiopathic epilepsy both depend on conducting complete community-based case ascertainment and obtaining detailed clinical data.

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