Hidden Risks of Harm for Epileptics

Epileptic children and young adults at greater risk for fractures and burns

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Broken bones and burns are often common injuries among children and teens. But some kids may be at greater risk than others for injury, such as those with epilepsy.

A recent study found that epileptic children and young adults were more likely to experience injuries than those without epilepsy. The injuries included fractures, burns and poisonings with medication.

The reasons behind the increased risk might relate to accidents that happen during seizures. 

"Ask your doctor about seizure management for your epileptic child."

The study, led by Vibhore Prasad, MSc, of the University of Nottingham in England, aimed to learn whether children and young adults with epilepsy were more likely to get injured.

The researchers looked through the medical records of 11,934 people with epilepsy and 45,598 people without epilepsy.

All the patients were aged between 1 and 24 years old, and their medical records spanned a time frame of an average 2.6 years.

The researchers specifically looked for the number of fractures, burns and poisonings that occurred among the individuals.

The results showed that individuals with epilepsy were slightly more likely to experience fractures and even more likely to experience burns or poisonings.

After taking into account differences in age and sex, the children and young adults with epilepsy were 18 percent more likely to have a fracture and 23 percent more likely to have a long bone fracture, compared to those without epilepsy.

Epileptic individuals were also about 1.5 times more likely to experience some kind of burn and about 2.5 times more likely to experience a poisoning from medications.

"Children and young adults with epilepsy are at a greater risk of fracture, thermal injury, and poisoning than those without," the researchers concluded. "The greatest risk is from medicinal poisonings."

The risk of medication poisoning was particularly high among young adults.

Those with epilepsy aged 19 to 24 years old were four times more likely to have a medication poisoning compared to others the same age without epilepsy.

The researchers suggested that some of the reasons behind the increased risk of injury may relate to seizures for fractures or burns and greater access to medication for the medicinal poisoning.

The medication poisonings could be accidental overdoses or intentional attempts at self-harm, the researchers noted.

The increased risk of medication poisoning among young adults may relate particularly to attempts to self-harm or to a greater likelihood to take risks, they wrote.

"Previous work suggests that people with epilepsy may have a greater risk of suicide than those without epilepsy," the authors wrote. "It is therefore possible that some of the observed greater risk of poisoning was intentional as opposed to unintentional poisoning."

The study was published April 14 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research. The authors reported no potential conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
April 12, 2014
Last Updated:
April 14, 2014