Purpose: The aim of this study was to look at gender differences in unselected populations of patients with epilepsy classified according to the 1989 International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) criteria.
Methods: Data were obtained from two sources: (a) the EpiBase database at the outpatient clinic at the Department of Neurology, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, confined to adults with epilepsy (n=2,170), and (b) the Danish Twin Registry (n=318).
Results: In localization-related epilepsy, no overall gender difference was found in either the EpiBase population (n=1,511; w=750 (50%), m=761 (50%); p=0.80) or in the twin population (n=172; w=86 (50%), m=86 (50%); p=1.00). However, in the EpiBase population, localization-related symptomatic epilepsies were more frequent in men (n=939; w=426 (45%), m=513 (55%); p=0.005); and cryptogenic localization-related epilepsies were more frequent in women (n=572; w=324 (57%), m=248 (43%); p=0.002). In generalized epilepsy, more women than men were diagnosed in both populations [EpiBase: n=480, w=280 (58%), m=200 (42%); p<0.001; twin population: n=105, w=63 (60%), m=42 (40%); p=0.05]. The difference was confined to idiopathic generalized epilepsy [EpiBase: n=437, w=259 (59%), m=178 (41%); p<0.001; twin population: n=94, w=60 (64%), m=34 (36%); p=0.01].
Conclusions: More women than men were diagnosed with idiopathic generalized epilepsy in two epilepsy populations. Overall, no gender difference was found in localization-related epilepsy, but localization-related symptomatic epilepsies were more frequent in men, and cryptogenic localization-related epilepsies were more frequent in women The results suggest a gender susceptibility to the development of specific epilepsy subtypes.