Epidemiology of epilepsy in developing countries

Bull World Health Organ. 1993;71(2):247-58.


Epilepsy is an important health problem in developing countries, where its prevalence can be up to 57 per 1000 population. This article reviews the epidemiology of epilepsy in developing countries in terms of its incidence, prevalence, seizure type, mortality data, and etiological factors. The prevalence of epilepsy is particularly high in Latin America and in several African countries, notably Liberia, Nigeria, and the United Republic of Tanzania. Parasitic infections, particularly neurocysticercosis, are important etiological factors for epilepsy in many of these countries. Other reasons for the high prevalence include intracranial infections of bacterial or viral origin, perinatal brain damage, head injuries, toxic agents, and hereditary factors. Many of these factors are, however, preventable or modifiable, and the introduction of appropriate measures to achieve this could lead to a substantial decrease in the incidence of epilepsy in developing countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications
  • Developing Countries*
  • Epilepsy / classification
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Parasitic Diseases / complications
  • Poisoning / complications
  • Prevalence
  • Virus Diseases / complications