Does epilepsy occur more frequently in children with Type 1 diabetes?

J Paediatr Child Health. 2008 Oct;44(10):586-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2008.01387.x.


Aim: Hypoglycaemic seizures are common in children with diabetes and electroencephalogram abnormalities are well recognised in this patient group. Elevated antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase, a major auto-antigen in Type 1 diabetes, are also implicated in a number of neurological disorders. Despite these associations, the question of whether children with diabetes are more prone to epilepsy, possibly as a result of lowered seizure threshold, has not been previously studied. We aimed to determine the prevalence and type of epilepsy in a large paediatric diabetes clinic.

Methods: An audit by chart review was carried out at the Diabetes Clinic at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. Clinical, demographical, biochemical, EEG and neuro-imaging data were recorded.

Results: Of 1384 children and adolescents aged 0-19 years with Type 1 diabetes, we identified 12 with active epilepsy (prevalence of 8.7/1000), the majority of whom had idiopathic generalised epilepsy and benign focal epilepsy of childhood. These findings are similar to those in the general population.

Conclusion: Childhood epilepsy is no more frequently encountered in children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes than in the general paediatric population.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic / metabolism
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / classification
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / immunology
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / blood*
  • Hypoglycemia / physiopathology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Seizures / physiopathology


  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase