Research

Childhood Epilepsy Triples the Long Term Mortality Risk

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Onset of epilepsy during childhood triples the long term mortality risk, suggests a recently published study in a medical journal. Epilepsy is a condition characterised by recurrent seizures. It is perhaps the second most common chronic neurological condition seen by neurologists. Three to five per cent of the population have a seizure at some stage in their life. The risk for death related to epilepsy remains unclear. Patients with uncontrolled seizures are supposed to suffer a high mortality rate. Seizures controlled by medication or surgery apparently do not increase the long term risk of death. Long-term follow-up of children with epilepsy has shed light on the factors related to increased mortality. A large population-based cohort study of 245 patients who had onset of epilepsy during childhood was conducted to assess the mortality and associated risk factors. This study group was tracked for a median of 40 years. The study revealed that epilepsy-related mortality is higher than originally estimated. Of 60 deaths 33 deaths (55%) were related to epilepsy, and 18 of these were sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). SUDEP is the sudden, unexpected death of someone with epilepsy, but who was otherwise healthy, and for whom no other cause of death can be found. 85% deaths occurred in patients who were not seizure-free (defined as 5-year terminal remission). The study has also given facts worth a smile. ‘More than half of the children with epilepsy will outgrow it, and those people are not at risk for SUDEP,’ studies reveal. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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