Document Type



Family Medicine (East Africa)


Rationale: Epilepsy is among the most common neurological disorders worldwide. However,there are few large, population-based studies of the prevalence and risk factors for epilepsy in southern Africa.

Methods: From August 2008 to February 2009, as part of a multi-site study, we undertook a three-stage, population-based study, embedded within the Agincourt health and socio-demographic surveillance system, to estimate the prevalence and identify risk factors of active convulsiveepilepsy (ACE) in a rural South African population.

Results: The crude prevalence of ACE, after adjusting for non-response and the sensitivity of the screening method, was 7.0/1,000 individuals (95%CI 6.4—7.6) with significant geographic hetero-geneity across the study area. Being male (OR = 2.3; 95%CI 1.6—3.2), family history of seizures(OR = 4.0; 95%CI 2.0—8.1), a sibling with seizures (OR = 7.0; 95%CI 1.6—31.7), problems after deliv-ery (OR = 5.9; 95%CI 1.2—24.6), and history of snoring (OR = 6.5; 95%CI 4.5—9.5) were significantlyassociated with ACE. For children, their mother’s exposure to some formal schooling was pro-tective (OR = 0.30; 95%CI 0.11—0.84) after controlling for age and sex. Human immunodeficiencyvirus was not found to be associated with ACE.

Conclusions: ACE is less frequent in this part of rural South Africa than other parts of sub-SaharanAfrica. Improving obstetric services could prevent epilepsy. The relationship between snoring and ACE requires further investigation, as does the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to examine the increased risk in those with a family history of epilepsy.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Epilepsy Research

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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