Death From Epilepsy

Seizures can be a very frightening scene, especially when the victim is a child. Parents of epileptic children often worry about the child suddenly dying during a seizure. A new study offers reassurance to these parents.

A population-based study was conducted by researchers from IWK Health Centre in Canada. Researchers included data from all children who developed epilepsy from 1977 to 1985. They looked at the sex, age, epilepsy type and neurological disorders of the children who died. The information was then compared to information on children without epilepsy.

During the eight-year study, 26 of the 692 children with epilepsy died.

Researchers report 22 deaths were caused by neurological deficits, including aspiration with pneumonia, infection and heart failure. The other four deaths were caused by sudden unexpected death, suicide and homicide.

The study finds children with epilepsy have more than five times the risk of dying than the general population in the first 15 to 20 years of diagnosis. However, most deaths are related to neurological disorders. Therefore, researchers say if a child with epilepsy has no other serious disorder, their risk of death is very close to that of the general population.

Researchers hope this information will lift an enormous worry off the shoulders of families who care for a child with epilepsy.

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