Objective: To determine differences in the incidence of epilepsy associated with deprivation.
Design: Cross-sectional study of new cases of epilepsy presenting over 3 years linked to census based population and deprivation data.
Setting: Norfolk UK.
Patients: Children aged 29 days to 14 years presenting to the only district hospital serving the study area.
Main outcome measures: Incidence of epilepsy in quartiles of areas defined by Townsend deprivation score.
Results: Overall annual incidence of epilepsy was 6.63 cases per 10,000. There was no association between epilepsy incidence and deprivation with rates of 6.5, 8.0, 4.1 and 7.9 per 10,000 per year, respectively, in areas with increasing levels of deprivation. Proportions of children investigated for possible epilepsy and of children treated for epilepsy showed no social variation.
Conclusions: We did not find social inequalities in the incidence of epilepsy in children. Nor was there evidence for the inverse care law in the investigation or treatment of epilepsy in children.