Epidemiological profile of epilepsy in low income populations

Seizure. 2018 Mar:56:67-72. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2018.02.002. Epub 2018 Feb 8.


Epilepsy is a global disease with an unequal distribution. About 80% of the affected individuals reside in low and middle income countries. The incidence and prevalence of epilepsy in low income populations is higher than in the rest of the world, this is partly explained by some risk factors such as head trauma, perinatal injury and CNS infections, which are more common in poor regions, especially in rural areas. Epilepsy is considered a treatable condition with high rates of therapeutic response. About three fourths of patients achieve control of the disease with the use of antiepileptic drugs, however, despite this benign prognosis, over 75% of patients from low income populations do not receive treatment at all. The cultural beliefs, the inequity in the distribution of public health services, the inadequate supply of antiepileptic drugs, the low number of neurologists involved in the attention of epilepsy, and the social stigma, are the main reasons that increase the treatment gap and the burden of disease in low income populations with epilepsy. We conducted a narrative review regarding the epidemiology of epilepsy in low income populations by searching PubMed, EMBASE, Google Scholar and thoroughly examining relevant bibliographies. This review aims to summarize the main epidemiological aspects of epilepsy in LMIC, emphasizing on incidence, prevalence, socio-demographic profile, TG, social stigma and QoL.

Keywords: Burden of disease; Epilepsy; Low income; Stigma; Treatment gap.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Poverty*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors