John Libbey Eurotext

Epilepsy and epileptic disorders, an epidemiological marker? Contribution of descriptive epidemiology Volume 4, issue 1, March 2002


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Hôpital Cantonal Universitaire, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland

Numerous epidemiological studies concerning the incidence and prevalence of epilepsy and epileptic seizures have been performed in different geographical areas throughout the world. The results of these studies show some disparities in the evaluation of incidence and prevalence rates. Higher incidence rates have been reported in a few studies performed in developing countries. Many prevalence studies seem to corroborate this figure although more recent surveys report similar rates to those observed in the developed world. These controversial results are discussed because there is no scientific reason that the clinical aspects and natural evolution of the disease should be different between developed and developing countries. However, some epidemic or endemic diseases might explain, in part, these figures. On the other hand, the age and sex distribution of the disease seems to be specific to epilepsy and could be related to particular risk factors and some demographic considerations. Apart from obvious methodological biases, the results of these studies lead us to recognize that epilepsy is universal ­ it can occur in any people ­ and is ubiquitous ­ i.e. it is observed in every country ­ but is not an equally distributed disease. Epileptic seizures and epilepsy might be considered as an epidemiological marker of some endemo-epidemic diseases or the results of certain preventive measures.