Sudden death in epilepsy: a study of incidence in a young cohort with epilepsy and learning difficulty

Epilepsia. 1995 Dec;36(12):1187-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1995.tb01061.x.


Sudden death, often seizure related, may occur in patients with epilepsy. Population-based incidence is probably on the order of 1:1,000/year. The incidence is much higher in selected groups, however. We wished to establish the incidence of sudden unexpected death (SUD) in a young cohort with severe epilepsy and learning difficulties. The study cohort included 310 pupils with epilepsy enrolled at a special residential school between April 1970 and April 1993. The follow-up period totaling 4,135 person-years included a period of residence at the school as well as time after leaving. Age and sex standardized overall mortality ratio was 15.9 [95% confidence interval (CI) 10.6-23.0], with 20 of 28 deaths considered epilepsy related. An incidence of sudden death cases of 1:295/year was noted. All 14 sudden deaths occurred when the pupils were not under the close supervision of the school and most were unwitnessed, which has implications for prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death, Sudden*
  • Epilepsy / mortality*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Seizures / mortality*