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How common is epilepsy?

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    ... it is essential to quantify how many people are currently living with the condition and how many new cases occur each year.

    Results of a new study conducted by UCB and Department of Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine provide fresh insights into epilepsy prevalence and incidence in the United States. As part of a research collaboration seeking to advance the understanding of the burden of epilepsy, UCB and Emory conducted the most comprehensive analysis of epilepsy prevalence and incidence in the U.S. to date.

    The results, presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society (AES) in Seattle, Washington (December 5th – 9th), are based on a large-scale analysis of insurance claims data from 2007 to 2011. Researchers from UCB and Emory studied data from more than 20 million individuals of all ages across the U.S.

    According to the new study, the overall age-adjusted prevalence estimate is 8.4 cases of epilepsy per 1,000 population, which is within the range of other estimates published from developed countries.

    The age-adjusted incidence estimate is 79.1 per 100,000 population. The estimated annual epilepsy incidence revealed in this study is distinctly higher than the typical estimated incidence rates reported in population-based studies, although the age distribution is similar to those of other studies. These weighted estimates also found substantially higher rates of epilepsy incidence among people younger than 5 years or older than 60 years.

    This project was a direct response to the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation to more accurately assess epilepsy burden in the U.S. as laid out in its 2012 report, Epilepsy Across the Spectrum. Epilepsy prevalence statistics in the U.S. were last updated in the 1990s, and previous estimates of epilepsy prevalence and incidence have historically been based on limited data from potentially unrepresentative localities and patient populations.

    These results may help inform national public health policies with the aim of better addressing the impact of epilepsy on individual patients and families. Ultimately, UCB and Emory are seeking to advance the understanding of epilepsy burden, management and outcomes and potentially reveal new, evidence-based opportunities to raise the standard of care in epilepsy.

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