Researchers: Pay more attention to epilepsy

December 27, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. -Epilepsy, a common and serious neurologic disorder that affects millions of people, is not getting the public attention and funding for research it deserves, according to an editorial on a study published in the January 4, 2011, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"We have almost nonexistent epilepsy surveillance, or ongoing collection of data on newly diagnosed epilepsy, in the United States," said Edwin Trevathan, MD, MPH, Dean of the St. Louis University School of Public Health in St. Louis and a member of the Neurology® Editorial Board. "As a result, we do not have good data to inform decisions made by our health leaders, and some of our best researchers are analyzing data that are 30 to 50 years old."

Trevathan points to narrowly focused funding lines from Congress to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one cause of inadequate epilepsy data. For example, these narrow funding lines result in funding for public awareness campaigns instead of essential public health infrastructure, such as public health surveillance for epilepsy. Major federal agencies such as the CDC also have other priorities that receive the limited, optional funding.

"Epilepsy has a major impact on public health. A national approach to monitoring epilepsy trends is desperately needed in order to monitor the impact of improvements in epilepsy care, to identify problems with epilepsy care that need to be corrected, and to provide up-to-date data for researchers," said Trevathan.

In the corresponding study, scientists aimed to discover the lifetime risk of developing epilepsy. They analyzed data on 412 people from Rochester, Minn., diagnosed with epilepsy between 1960 and 1979. The study found that at least one in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. The risk was higher in the elderly, with a risk of 1.6 percent in people under age 50 and a 3.0 percent risk for people up to age 80.

"Our results highlight the need for more research using epilepsy surveillance data, especially given the aging population in the United States. Such surveillance will also provide useful information for health care planners as they address the service needs of people with epilepsy," said study author Dale C. Hesdorffer, PhD, associate professor of clinical epidemiology in the Sergievsky Center at Columbia University Medical Center.
-end-
The study was supported by the National Institute for Neurologic Disorders and Stroke and the National Institutes of Health.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 22,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as epilepsy, dystonia, migraine, Huntington's disease, and dementia.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com.

VIDEO:
http://www.youtube.com/AANChannel

TEXT:
http://www.aan.com/press

TWEETS:
http://www.twitter.com/AANPublic

American Academy of Neurology

Related Epilepsy Articles from Brightsurf:

Focal epilepsy often overlooked
Having subtler symptoms, a form of epilepsy that affects only one part of the brain often goes undiagnosed long enough to cause unexpected seizures that contribute to car crashes, a new study finds.

Antibodies in the brain trigger epilepsy
Certain forms of epilepsy are accompanied by inflammation of important brain regions.

Breaching the brain's defense causes epilepsy
Epileptic seizures can happen to anyone. But how do they occur and what initiates such a rapid response?

Using connectomics to understand epilepsy
Abnormalities in structural brain networks and how brain regions communicate may underlie a variety of disorders, including epilepsy, which is one focus of a two-part Special Issue on the Brain Connectome in Brain Connectivity, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Epilepsy: Triangular relationship in the brain
When an epileptic seizure occurs in the brain, the nerve cells lose their usual pattern and fire in a very fast rhythm.

How concussions may lead to epilepsy
Researchers have identified a cellular response to repeated concussions that may contribute to seizures in mice like those observed following traumatic brain injury in humans.

Understanding epilepsy in pediatric tumors
A KAIST research team led by Professor Jeong Ho Lee of the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering has recently identified a neuronal BRAF somatic mutation that causes intrinsic epileptogenicity in pediatric brain tumors.

Can medical marijuana help treat intractable epilepsy?
A new British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology review examines the potential of medicinal cannabis -- or medical marijuana -- for helping patients with intractable epilepsy, in which seizures fail to come under control with standard anticonvulsant treatment.

Fertility rates no different for women with epilepsy
'Myth-busting' study among women with no history of infertility finds that those with epilepsy are just as likely to become pregnant as those without.

Do women with epilepsy have similar likelihood of pregnancy?
Women with epilepsy without a history of infertility or related disorders who wanted to become pregnant were about as likely as their peers without epilepsy to become pregnant.

Read More: Epilepsy News and Epilepsy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.