National and State Estimates of the Numbers of Adults and Children with Active Epilepsy - United States, 2015

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017 Aug 11;66(31):821-825. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6631a1.


Epilepsy, a brain disorder leading to recurring seizures, has garnered increased public health focus because persons with epilepsy experience pronounced and persistent health and socioeconomic disparities despite treatment advances, public awareness programs, and expanded rights for persons with disabilities (1,2). For almost all states, epilepsy prevalence estimates do not exist. CDC used national data sources including the 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for adults (aged ≥18 years), the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), and the 2015 Current Population Survey data, describing 2014 income levels, to estimate prevalent cases of active epilepsy, overall and by state, to provide information for state public health planning. In 2015, 1.2% of the U.S. population (3.4 million persons: 3 million adults and 470,000 children) reported active epilepsy (self-reported doctor-diagnosed epilepsy and under treatment or with recent seizures within 12 months of interview) or current epilepsy (parent-reported doctor-diagnosed epilepsy and current epilepsy). Estimated numbers of persons with active epilepsy, after accounting for income and age differences by state, ranged from 5,900 in Wyoming to 427,700 in California. NHIS data from 2010-2015 indicate increases in the number of persons with active epilepsy, probably because of population growth. This study provides updated national and modeled state-specific numbers of active epilepsy cases. Public health practitioners, health care providers, policy makers, epilepsy researchers, and other epilepsy stakeholders, including family members and people with epilepsy, can use these findings to ensure that evidence-based programs meet the complex needs of adults and children with epilepsy and reduce the disparities resulting from it.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult