Epidemiology, aetiology, and clinical management of epilepsy in Asia: a systematic review

Lancet Neurol. 2007 Jun;6(6):533-43. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(07)70127-8.


Epilepsy is a significant, but often underappreciated, health problem in Asia. Here, we systematically review the literature on epidemiology, aetiology, and management of epilepsy in 23 Asian countries. Prevalence estimates are available for only 11 countries from door-to-door surveys and are generally low. Figures for annual incidence in China and India are similar to those in the USA and Europe but lower than those reported from Africa and Latin America. There is a peak in incidence and prevalence in childhood, but a second peak in elderly people, as seen in developed countries, has not been documented. The main causes are head injuries, cerebrovascular disease, CNS infections, and birth trauma. Availability of epilepsy care depends largely on economic factors. Imaging and neurophysiological facilities are available in most countries, but often only in urban centres. Costly drugs, a large treatment gap, limited epilepsy surgery, and negative public attitude to epilepsy are other notable features of management in Asia. An understanding of the psychosocial, cultural, economic, organisational, and political factors influencing epilepsy causation, management, and outcome should be of high priority for future investigations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy* / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy* / etiology
  • Epilepsy* / therapy
  • Humans