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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 00:48 GMT
Epilepsy linked to poverty
Brain image
Epileptics suffer seizures
Poorer people are more likely to develop epilepsy, researchers have found.

Those in the most deprived fifth of the population were more than twice as likely to develop epilepsy than those in the least deprived fifth.

A number of factors could explain the link, researchers from the Institute of Neurology said.

The team looked at all new cases of epilepsy in 20 general practices in London and south east England for between 18 and 24 months.

They were classed according to a recognised scale of measuring social and economic deprivation.


We want to see more research so that we can pinpoint the causes of epilepsy across this section of the community

National Society for Epilepsy
It is known that people with epilepsy are more likely to be poor, for example because they may not be able to work.

But this is the first study to show that poverty precedes epilepsy.

Combination of factors

Risk factors for epilepsy such as birth defects and poor nutrition are known to be more common among deprived groups.

Genes associated with epilepsy could be involved in determining educational achievement and other aspects of medical health, the researchers say.

Around 300,000 people in the UK have epilepsy. People with the condition are prone to having seizures.

Professor Ley Sander, who led the research, told BBC News Online: "The explanation is not likely to be a single cause. It is likely to be many things combined."

"If you're poor, you will seek medical care later than if you're wealthy," he added.

The authors said patients in London and the south east might have different access to services.

Professor Sander said: "We need more research to find out how the causes of epilepsy in the lower strata of society differ from the rich."

A spokeswoman for the National Society for Epilepsy said: "We want to see more research into this so that we can pinpoint the causes of epilepsy across this section of the community.

"Hopefully, we will be able to reduce the huge numbers of people living with epilepsy in this country."

See also:

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