25-9-2009 | Obesity found to be common in children with epilepsy

25 September 2009
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American researchers have found that obesity is common in children with newly diagnosed epilepsy.

Dr. Tracy A. Glauser from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and colleagues examined data on over 200 children suspected to have a first time seizure or new onset epilepsy. These children were compared with 597 children who did not have epilepsy.

It was found that 20% of children with epilepsy were obese, compared to 13.7% of the control group. Overall, almost 39% of the epilepsy group was overweight or obese compared to 28% of the controls group.

The researcher state in the journal Neurology that it is unclear if the higher rate of obesity in the epilepsy population is coincidental or a result of a common mechanism.

In addition to having more overweight subjects, it was also found that the epilepsy group had more underweight children compared to the control group.

It was also found that Body mass index (BMI) was affected by age. 27% of adolescent patients were classified as obese compared to 17.6% of the pre-adolescents. The authors point out that physical changes and body image awareness in adolescents "may lead to treatment non-adherence," which occurs "in anywhere from 14% to 44%" of paediatric epilepsy patients.

Overweight and obesity in children has lead to increased prevalence of diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Obesity in epilepsy is of particular concern because of side effects of some antiepileptic drugs on weight.

The authors state that his information will be useful for doctors in selecting medication for epilepsy treatment and establishing early intervention strategies to prevent obesity while treating epilepsy.

Neurology 2009;73:654-655,658-664.

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