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Few data exist on the frequency and burden of childhood epilepsy in Canada and on the impact in the general population. We have assessed the point prevalence of childhood epilepsy in Canada.
We analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (N=20 025 for Cycle 2, and N= 31 960 for cycle 3). Each cycle was collected over a two year period (2: 1996-1997, 3: 1998-1999). In the survey the following specific question was asked to the person most knowledgeable in the household: "Does the child have any of the following long-term conditions that have been diagnosed by a health professional?" The list of responses included Epilepsy and certain co-morbid conditions. In addition, a subsequent question identified whether the condition was treated by means of a specific anticonvulsant medication, (anticonvulsants or anti-epileptic pills?). Prevalence was based on the national standard population at the time of each survey.
In Cycle 2,80 of 20 025 subjects from 0 to 13 years old were described to have the diagnosis of epilepsy, yielding a weighted point prevalence of 4.03 per 1 000. In Cycle 3 161 of 31 960 children from 0 to 15 were described as having epilepsy, yielding a weighted point prevalence of 5.26 per 1 000. The rate of epilepsy was higher for males and increases with age.
The overall rates for this age cohort are consistent with those obtained in other developed countries and seem to coincide with rates for youth and adults in Canada.