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Epilepsy Raises Drowning Risk

Seizures could boost the danger in tubs, pools, experts say

MONDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Having epilepsy might put you at a significantly higher risk for death by drowning, a new report says.

The study, which looked at information compiled from all over the world, found that epileptics had a 15 to 19 times greater chance of drowning compared with the general population. Epileptics with a learning disability, those in institutional care and those who have had brain surgery were at the greatest risk, according to the study published in the Aug. 19 issue of Neurology.

"It is important that people with epilepsy and their caregivers take steps to prevent these tragedies," study author Dr. Ley Sander of the University College London Institute of Neurology, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher, the American Academy of Neurology. "People with active epilepsy should shower instead of bathe, take medication regularly to control seizures and should have direct supervision when swimming."

Surprisingly, the research found that children with epilepsy were at less risk of drowning compared with adults. Sander said this probably was because children tend to receive more direct supervision.

The normal risk for drowning is about 7 deaths per 100,000 people, based on the Global Burden of Disease 2000 Project estimate that almost 450,000 people drowned worldwide in 2000.

More information

The Epilepsy Foundation has more about epilepsy.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Aug. 18, 2008

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