Epileptic seizures induced by animated cartoon, "Pocket Monster"

Epilepsia. 1999 Jul;40(7):997-1002. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1999.tb00809.x.


Purpose: A large number of children had fits while watching the animated cartoon television (TV) program "Pocket Monster." To elucidate the seizures associated with the TV program, we administered a questionnaire survey in Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

Methods: The questionnaires were sent to 75 hospitals located in and around Aichi prefecture. The presence of epileptic seizures and the types of seizures were determined by three pediatric neurologists.

Results: Sixty-one hospitals responded to the questionnaire survey. Among 95 patients living in Aichi prefecture for whom enough information on seizure manifestations and EEG was available, < or =93 patients were considered to have epileptic seizures while watching the TV program. Most seizures occurred at a scene in which red and blue frames alternated at 12 Hz. Sixty-nine (74%) patients had no history of epilepsy. Thirty-nine patients had generalized seizures, and 49 patients had partial seizures. Partial seizures occurred more frequently in the younger age group than did generalized seizures. The EEG revealed a photoparoxysmal response (PPR) in 43% of patients. PPR was present not only in patients with a history of epilepsy (54%) but also in those with no history of epilepsy (38%).

Conclusions: Almost all seizures induced by the TV program "Pocket Monster" were epileptic, and partial seizures were induced more frequently than generalized seizures. The incidence of this "Pocket Monster"-induced seizures was roughly estimated as > or =1 in 4,923 individuals aged 6-18 years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Cartoons as Topic*
  • Child
  • Color Perception
  • Epilepsies, Partial / epidemiology
  • Epilepsies, Partial / etiology
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / adverse effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television*
  • Visual Perception*