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Epilepsia. 1983 Aug;24(4):502-14.

A descriptive study of epilepsy in the district of Copparo, Italy, 1964-1978.

Abstract

Worldwide investigation of the epidemiology of epilepsy has suggested wide variations in the frequency of convulsive disorders. However, descriptive studies in general populations cannot be completely comparable because of a remarkable methodological dishomogeneity in definition of epilepsy, classification of seizures, and ascertainment, collection, and selection of the cases. The position with regard to the Mediterranean people was still little known, and the few studies presently available from Italy offer underestimates of epilepsy frequency owing to incompleteness in case-collection practices and lack of information about the incidence of the disease. Therefore, to verify the true frequency of epilepsy in our country, we performed a community-based epidemiologic study of convulsive disorders in the district of Copparo (population 45,153) in northern Italy. Based on 278 accepted cases with "active" epilepsy, the prevalence per 1,000 population on December 31, 1978, was 6.2 (6.4 if standardized to the Italian population). The average annual incidence for the period 1964 through 1978 was 33.1 per 100,000 (38.3 if standardized). These results, similar to those found in other Western countries, support the view that the frequency of epilepsy in Italy as a whole is higher than that indicated by the Italian studies previously published, and suggest that epilepsy is evenly distributed in Europe and the United States. Antecedents which could be considered potential causes of epilepsy were found in 39.6%, and in 39.1% of the prevalence and incidence cases, respectively; for both prevalence and incidence groups, perinatal brain injuries were the most frequent event. This high proportion of epileptic cases with underlying causes emphasizes the urgency of planning precautionary measures in Italy to improve prenatal and perinatal medical care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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