Epileptic Seizures Induced by Animated Cartoon, “Pocket Monster”


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. H. Takada at Department of Pediatrics, Nagoya University School of Medicine, 65 Tsurumai-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya, Japan 466-8550.


Summary: Purpose: A large number of children had fits while watching the animated cartoon television (TV) program “Pocket Monster.” To elucidate the seizures associated with the TV program, we administered a questionnaire survey in Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

Methods: The questionnaires were sent to 75 hospitals located in and around Aichi prefecture. The presence of epileptic seizures and the types of seizures were determined by three pediatric neurologists.

Results: Sixty-one hospitals responded to the questionnaire survey. Among 95 patients living in Aichi prefecture for whom enough information on seizure manifestations and EEG was available, ≤93 patients were considered to have epileptic seizures while watching the TV program. Most seizures occurred at a scene in which red and blue frames alternated at 12 Hz. Sixty-nine (74%) patients had no history of epilepsy. Thirty-nine patients had generalized seizures, and 49 patients had partial seizures. Partial seizures occurred more frequently in the younger age group than did generalized seizures. The EEG revealed a photoparoxysmal response (PPR) in 43% of patients. PPR was present not only in patients with a history of epilepsy (54%) but also in those with no history of epilepsy (38%).

Conclusions: Almost all seizures induced by the TV program “Pocket Monster” were epileptic, and partial seizures were induced more frequently than generalized seizures. The incidence of this “Pocket Monster”-induced seizures was roughly estimated as ≥1 in 4,923 individuals aged 6–18 years.