Prevalence, risk factors, and neurobehavioral comorbidities of epilepsy in Kenyan children

the Neurodevelopment Disorders study group

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate the prevalence, risk factors, clinical features, and neurobehavioral comorbidities of epilepsy and acute symptomatic seizures in school-aged children in Kilifi, Kenya. Methods: Randomly selected children (N = 11,223) were screened for epilepsy and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Those who screened positive were invited for further clinical, electroencephalographic (EEG), and neuropsychological evaluations. Prevalence was measured by dividing cases by screened population, providing Agresti–Coull confidence intervals (CIs). Prevalence ratios were computed using log binomial regression, and odds ratios (ORs) were computed using logistic regression; both were implemented with generalized linear models. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and other neurodevelopmental impairments were assessed in cases and controls. Results: Prevalence of lifetime epilepsy was 20.9 per 1,000 (95% CI = 18.4–23.7), and that of active epilepsy was 11.5 per 1,000 (95% CI = 9.7–13.6). Prevalence of acute symptomatic seizures was 68.8 per 1,000 (95% CI = 64.2–73.6). Acute symptomatic seizures preceded a diagnosis of epilepsy in 8% of children. Of 98 children diagnosed with epilepsy, focal seizures were seen in 79%, abnormal EEG was seen in 39%, and 83% were not receiving antiepileptic drugs. Childhood absence epilepsy and Lennox–Gastaut epilepsy were the most easily identifiable epilepsy syndromes. Perinatal complications, previous hospitalization, geophagia, and snoring were risk factors for epilepsy. Family history of seizures, abnormal pregnancy, previous hospitalization, and snoring were risk factors for acute symptomatic seizures. Neurobehavioral comorbidities were present in 54% of subjects with lifetime epilepsy and in 3% of controls, with associations for individual comorbidities being statistically significant: ADHD (OR = 14.55, 95% CI = 7.54–28.06), ASD (OR = 36.83, 95% CI = 7.97–170.14), and cognitive impairments (OR = 14.55, 95% CI = 3.52–60.14). Significance: The burden of seizure disorders in this area is higher than in locations in high-income countries, and can be reduced by preventing risk factors. A comprehensive management plan for neurobehavioral comorbidities of epilepsy should be incorporated into standard epilepsy care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-399
Number of pages12
JournalEpilepsia Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Africa
  • Children
  • Convulsive epilepsy
  • Neurobehavioral comorbidities
  • Prevalence


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