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24 February 2009

Brain injury leads to epilepsy risk

A severe brain injury puts people at high risk of epilepsy for more than a decade after they are first hurt, suggesting there may be a way to prevent the condition, research shows.

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A severe brain injury puts people at high risk of epilepsy for more than a decade after they are first hurt, a finding that suggests there may be a window to prevent the condition, researchers said.

A Danish team found that the odds of epilepsy more than doubled after mild brain injury or skull fracture and was seven times more likely in patients with serious brain injury.

The risk remained even 10 years on, more so in people older than 15, Jakob Christensen and colleagues at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and colleagues wrote in the journal The Lancet.

"Traumatic brain injury is a significant risk indicator for epilepsy many years after the injury," they wrote. "Drug treatment after brain injury with the aim of preventing post-traumatic epilepsy has been discouraging, but our data suggest a long time interval for potential, preventive treatment of high-risk patients."

The researchers analysed data taken from a national registry on traumatic brain injury and epilepsy of 1.6 million young people born in Denmark between 1977 and 2002.

Epilepsy is a broad term for a condition in which people experience seizures. Drugs can control seizures in most patients, although they sometimes cause severe side effects. – (Reuters Health, February 2009)

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