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Acta Neurol Scand Suppl. 1995;162:17-21.

Recent developments in the epidemiology of epilepsy.

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  • 1Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Epidemiological incidence data are important to determine those who are at risk of epilepsy and to understand the aetiology of the condition. A number of studies have been reported recently, which allow comparisons across populations. There appears to be geographical variation in the incidence of epilepsy, with a higher incidence in rural South America than in developed countries: no large scale incidence studies have yet been carried out in Africa or Asia. A consistent pattern suggesting that the onset of epilepsy occurs at the extremes of life has also been shown. Although a number of factors are often identified as causes of epilepsy, studies have identified a definitive aetiology in only one-third of all newly diagnosed cases. Epidemiological studies have, however, confirmed the importance of postnatal insults and quantified the risk. Family history may also be considered a risk factor for epilepsy in epidemiological terms.

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