Association between environmental exposure to pesticides and epilepsy

Neurotoxicology. 2018 Sep;68:13-18. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2018.07.002. Epub 2018 Jul 6.


There is increasing evidence of an association between long-term environmental exposure to pesticides and neurodegenerative disorders; however, the relationship with epilepsy has not been addressed thus far. This study was aimed at determining the prevalence and risk of developing epilepsy among people from South-East Spain living in areas of high vs. low exposure to pesticides based on agronomic data. The study population consisted of 4007 subjects with a diagnosis of epilepsy and 580,077 control subjects adjusted for age, sex and geographical area. Data were collected from hospital records of the Spanish health care system (basic minimum dataset) between the years 1998 and 2010. The prevalence of epilepsy was significantly higher in areas of greater pesticide use relative to areas of lesser use. Overall, an increased risk of epilepsy was observed in the population living in areas of high vs. low use of pesticides (OR: 1.65; p < 0.001). Although this study was exploratory in nature, the results suggest that environmental exposure to pesticides might increase the risk of having epilepsy.

Keywords: Environmental exposure; Epilepsy; Pesticides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Epilepsy / chemically induced*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Pesticides