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Risk and causes of death in children with a seizure disorder

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Victoria Nesbitt, Emeritus Professor Allan Colver, Dr Rob Forsyth


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Aim To describe the frequency and causes of death in children with epilepsy, ascertain the contribution of seizure disorder to cause of death, and compare with rates of sudden unexplained death in children without epilepsy.Method This study was a retrospective review of clinical and death certificate records. It examined two UK population-based samples of deaths in children with epilepsy from 1 month to 18 years, together comprising the largest reported series of deaths in children with epilepsy (n=265).Results In approximately two-thirds, the death was not due to the seizure disorder. Rates of unexplained death were similar in the two samples at 7.3% and 9.7%: all were in children with symptomatic or presumed symptomatic epilepsy. There were no unexplained deaths in the children with idiopathic epilepsy. Four per cent of the deaths were of children experiencing acute symptomatic seizures as part of their final illness. The risk of unexpected, unexplained death in children with idiopathic epilepsy is not more than 65 per 100 000 child-years.Interpretation Epilepsy is associated with an increased risk of death in childhood but this risk is almost entirely confined to those with an associated neurodevelopmental disorder. The risk of unexpected, unexplained death in children with idiopathic epilepsy is extremely small.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nesbitt V, Kirkpatrick M, Pearson G, Colver A, Forsyth R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology

Year: 2012

Volume: 54

Issue: 7

Pages: 612-617

Print publication date: 14/04/2012

ISSN (print): 0012-1622

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8749

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2012.04295.x


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