Healthy Living

Kids, Young Adults With Epilepsy More Prone To Injury, Burns, And Prescription Drug Overdoses

Young People With Epilepsy Prone To Personal Injury
Children and young adults with epilepsy are more prone to personal injury than others, often overdosing on medication. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Some kids are clumsier or more accident-prone than others, never as gifted in the realm of physical intelligence as others. But new research finds that children and young adults with epilepsy are particularly more likely to suffer broken bones, burns, and poisonings than others without the brain disorder.

Young people with epilepsy are particularly susceptible to poisonings by overdoses of medication, sometimes intentional and sometimes accidental. Overall, children with epilepsy are about twice as likely to experience poisonings than others. However, young adults ages 19 to 24 with epilepsy are four times as likely to experience such mishaps, according to a study from the University of Nottingham.

The study was published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

Primary care specialist Vibhore Prasad said epileptic patients between 12 months and 24 years of age at the time of diagnosis were nearly one-and-a-half times as likely to suffer burn injuries and nearly 25 percent more likely to break an arm or leg.

"More research is needed to understand why people with epilepsy have a greater number of medicine-related poisonings and whether the poisonings are intentional or accidental,” Prasad said in a news release. “This is the first study in the UK population to estimate the risk of fractures, burns and poisonings. The risk of a poisoning in the next five years for 1,000 people with epilepsy is about 20 extra poisonings compared to people who do not have epilepsy."

The chronic condition is characterized by a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain that causes a temporary disruption in normal functioning, resulting in a seizure. Epilepsy affects some two million people in the United States and costs $15 billion in direct medical expenses every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As to why people with epilepsy are more susceptible to such mishaps, researchers point to a body of research attributing the risk of seizures to the side effects of drugs used to treat the condition. These risk might have been underestimated, however, as past work focused mostly on people with severe forms of the condition, such as patients at epilepsy clinics or disabled adults in long-term care.

This study was first to investigate the childhood risk of injuries associated with epilepsy, Prasad said. The team analyzed the records of more than 12,000 patients with epilepsy in the UK, comparing the rate of injury with records from another 47,000 patients without the condition.

Prasad says doctors and parents should discuss the risks of physical injury associated with epilepsy, including the potential to overdose on medication.

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