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Keywords:

  • Epilepsy–Childhood epilepsy–Seizures–Epidemiology–Prevalence

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.