WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
Aug. 7, 2008 -- More than 1.5% of adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed
with epilepsy -- a number that is likely to increase as the population
ages, according to a new study published in the CDC's Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report.
The study, the first of its kind, reports that 1.65% of
non-institutionalized adults surveyed from across the country have been told by
a doctor they have epilepsy or a history of epilepsy. The study looked at
responses from 19 states and found 2,027 adults aged 18 years or older reported
ever being told they had epilepsy.
Some respondents (0.84%) reported having active epilepsy, meaning they are
currently taking medication for epilepsy or have had at least one seizure in
the past three months. And 0.75% of people are classified as having inactive
epilepsy; these people have a history of epilepsy or seizure disorder but were
not taking medication or experiencing seizures in the three months before the
survey. The prevalence of the disease is not substantially different based on
race, gender, or home state.
The researchers found that adults with a history of epilepsy and active
epilepsy are more likely to have other health problems, such as obesity,
arthritis, and strokes; they are also are more likely to be unemployed and live
in homes with low household incomes. These people are more likely to be current
While the study, based on 2005 data, provides a baseline, the authors call
for additional research. "Population-based epidemiological studies of
epilepsy are important for policymakers and health-care providers to plan and
provide prevention programs and appropriate care and services for those
affected," the study says.
The paper is based on data from The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
System (BRFSS), an ongoing, state-based, telephone survey of the
non-institutionalized U.S. adult population. In 2005, 19 states included
questions on epilepsy or seizure disorder.
SOURCE:Kobau, R. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Aug. 8, 2008; vol
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