Maloney EM, Corcoran P, Costello DJ, O’Reilly ÉJ.
Objective: Epidemiologic studies have investigated whether social deprivation is associated with a higher incidence of epilepsy, and results are conflicting, especially in children. The mechanisms underlying a potential association are unclear. This study examines whether there is an association between social deprivation and the incidence of first seizures (unprovoked and provoked) and new diagnosis of epilepsy by comparing incidence across an area-level measure of deprivation in a population-based cohort.
Methods: Multiple methods of case identification followed by individual case validation and classification were carried out in a defined geographical area (population 542 868) to identify all incident cases of first provoked and first unprovoked seizures and new diagnosis of epilepsy presenting during the calendar year 2017. An area-level relative deprivation index, based on 10 indicators from census data, was assigned to each patient according to registered address and categorized into quintiles from most to least deprived.
Results: The annual incidence of first unprovoked seizures (n = 372), first provoked seizures (n = 189), and new diagnosis of epilepsy (n = 336) was highest in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas (incidence ratios of 1.79 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.26-2.52], 1.55 [95% CI = 1.04-2.32], and 1.83 [95% CI = 1.28-2.62], respectively). This finding was evident in both adults and children and in those with structural and unknown etiologies of epilepsy.
Significance: The incidence of first seizures and new diagnosis of epilepsy is associated with more social deprivation. The reason for this higher incidence is likely multifactorial.