Comorbidity and Childhood Epilepsy: A Nationwide Registry Study

Kari Modalsli Aabert, Inger Johanne Bakken, Morten I Lossius, Camilla Lund Soraas, Siri Eldevik Haberg, Camilla Stoltenberg, Pal Suren, Richard Chin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Children with epilepsy are at increased risk of other disorders and difficulties, preceding, cooccurring with, or after the diagnosis of epilepsy. Risk estimates vary, few studies are population-based, and few provide comprehensive assessments of comorbidities. We used nationwide registry data to describe frequencies of medical, neurologic, developmental, and psychiatric conditions occurring before and after children are diagnosed with childhood epilepsy.
METHODS: Data were obtained from the Norwegian Patient Registry, which is an administrative database recording International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision diagnoses from all government-funded specialist health services in Norway (outpatient consultations and hospitalizations). We included data from the years 2008 through 2013 for all children born in Norway between 1996 and 2013 (0–17 years of age at the end of follow-up). Children with epilepsy were compared with the general child population, adjusting for sex and age. We also compared children with complicated epilepsies (ie, epilepsies with additional neurologic and/or developmental disorders) to children with uncomplicated epilepsies.
RESULTS: The study population included 1 125 161 children. There were 6635 (0.6%) children with epilepsy. Nearly 80% of children with epilepsy had ≥1 comorbid disorder. All types of disorders were more frequent in children with epilepsy, with additional medical disorders recorded in 55%, neurologic disorders in 41%, and developmental/psychiatric disorders in 43%. Children with complicated epilepsies had the highest overall levels of comorbidity, but the risk of medical and psychiatric comorbidities was also substantial among children with uncomplicated epilepsies.
CONCLUSIONS: The overall frequency of comorbid disease is high in children with epilepsy, including children with presumably uncomplicated epilepsies.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Early online date1 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


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