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Epilepsia. 1999 Jul;40(7):997-1002.

Epileptic seizures induced by animated cartoon, "Pocket Monster".

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Department of Pediatrics, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Japan.



A large number of children had fits while watching the animated cartoon television (TV) program "Pocket Monster." To elucidate the seizures associated with the TV program, we administered a questionnaire survey in Aichi Prefecture, Japan.


The questionnaires were sent to 75 hospitals located in and around Aichi prefecture. The presence of epileptic seizures and the types of seizures were determined by three pediatric neurologists.


Sixty-one hospitals responded to the questionnaire survey. Among 95 patients living in Aichi prefecture for whom enough information on seizure manifestations and EEG was available, < or =93 patients were considered to have epileptic seizures while watching the TV program. Most seizures occurred at a scene in which red and blue frames alternated at 12 Hz. Sixty-nine (74%) patients had no history of epilepsy. Thirty-nine patients had generalized seizures, and 49 patients had partial seizures. Partial seizures occurred more frequently in the younger age group than did generalized seizures. The EEG revealed a photoparoxysmal response (PPR) in 43% of patients. PPR was present not only in patients with a history of epilepsy (54%) but also in those with no history of epilepsy (38%).


Almost all seizures induced by the TV program "Pocket Monster" were epileptic, and partial seizures were induced more frequently than generalized seizures. The incidence of this "Pocket Monster"-induced seizures was roughly estimated as > or =1 in 4,923 individuals aged 6-18 years.

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