Young people with epilepsy ‘at elevated risk of injury’

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A new UK study has shed light on the elevated risk of injury experienced by children and young adults with epilepsy.

Led by the University of Nottingham and funded by the National Institute for Health Research, the research revealed that those affected by the condition are more likely to suffer broken bones, burns and poisonings than those who do not.

Published in the latest edition of the journal Pediatrics, the study showed that young people with epilepsy were more than twice as likely to be poisoned by medication, increasing to four times the risk in patients aged between 19 and 24 years old.

These patients were also revealed to be almost one-and-a-half times more likely to suffer a burn-related injury and at an almost 25 per cent greater risk of breaking an arm or leg.

Previous research into this topic has suggested that epileptic seizures can explain this increased risk, but many of these past studies may have overestimated this association, due to the fact they focused primarily on patients with more severe forms of epilepsy.

By contrast, this new study had a broader focus, drawing data from GP records from almost 12,000 patients with epilepsy over an average of two-and-a-half years before comparing it with the records of around 47,000 non-epileptic people.

Dr Vibhore Prasad of the university’s division of primary care said: “More research is needed to understand why people with epilepsy have a greater number of medicine-related poisonings and whether the poisonings are intentional or accidental.

“This is the first study in the UK population to estimate the risk of fractures, burns and poisonings.”

The authors concluded that the findings should be used by medical professionals to make epilepsy patients and their families more aware of the risk of injury, as well as to inform existing guidelines on treatment. It could also mean that more information relating to the safe storage of medicines and the supervision of children could be given by doctors.

Currently, it estimated that around one in 240 children under 16 in the UK is affected by epilepsy.

Posted by Steve Long