Comorbidities of epilepsy in low and middle-income countries: systematic review and meta-analysis

Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 2;10(1):9015. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-65768-6.


Epilepsy is a major public health concern in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) and comorbidities aggravate the burden associated with the disease. The epidemiology of these comorbidities has not been well described, although, identifying the main comorbidities of epilepsy, and their relative importance, is crucial for improving the quality of care. Comorbidities were defined as disorders coexisting with or preceding epilepsy, or else compounded or directly attributed to epilepsy or to its treatment. A meta-analysis of the proportion of main comorbidities by subcontinent as well as overall was also conducted. Out of the 2,300 papers identified, 109 from 39 countries were included in this systematic review. Four groups of comorbidities were identified: parasitic and infectious diseases (44% of comorbid conditions), somatic comorbidities (37%), psychosocial (11%), as well as psychiatric comorbidities (8%). Heterogeneity was statistically significant for most variables then random effect models were used. The most frequently studied comorbidities were: neurocysticercosis (comorbid proportion: 23%, 95% CI: 18-29), head trauma (comorbid proportion: 9%, 95% CI: 5-15) malnutrition (comorbid proportion: 16%, 95% CI: 28-40), stroke (comorbid proportion: 1.3%, 95% CI: 0.2-7.0), and discrimination for education (comorbid proportion: 34%, 95% CI: 28-40). Many comorbidities of epilepsy were identified in LMICs, most of them being infectious.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Infections / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Neurocysticercosis / epidemiology
  • Stroke / epidemiology