Literature Monitor

Federal Report Finds Increased Prevalence of Epilepsy

MMWR; 2017 Aug 11; Zack et al.


Three million adults and 470,000 children have epilepsy according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These figures, based on the 2015 National Health Interview Survey, translate into 1.2% of the US population, an all-time high. Previous estimates, based on 2010 data, indicated that 2.3 million adults and 450,000 children had the disorder.

  • The CDC report provides the first ever estimates of the prevalence of epilepsy state by state, with the agency reporting higher volumes in more densely populated states, as expected.
  • The lowest prevalence of the neurological disease was noted in Wyoming, with 5900 active cases.
  • California was estimated to have 427,700 cases of the disease.
  • CDC believes increases from 2010 to 2015 are likely due to population growth.
  • Among the limitations of the analysis is the fact that the estimates are based on self-reports, which are subject to bias.
  • Underreporting by the public may reflect their reluctance to admit to a disorder because of its stigma and because they fear it could lead to driver’s license restrictions.

Zack MM, Kobau R. National and state estimates of the numbers of adults and children with active epilepsy — United States, 2015. MMWR; 2017;66(31):821-825.

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