Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

RATIONALE: Epilepsy is among the most common neurological disorders worldwide. However, there are few large, population-based studies of the prevalence and risk factors for epilepsy in southern Africa. METHODS: From August 2008 to February 2009, as part of a multi-site study, we undertook a three-stage, population-based study, embedded within the Agincourt health and socio-demographic surveillance system, to estimate the prevalence and identify risk factors of active convulsive epilepsy (ACE) in a rural South African population. RESULTS: The crude prevalence of ACE, after adjusting for non-response and the sensitivity of the screening method, was 7.0/1,000 individuals (95% CI 6.4-7.6) with significant geographic heterogeneity across the study area. Being male (OR=2.3; 95% CI 1.6-3.2), family history of seizures (OR=4.0; 95% CI 2.0-8.1), a sibling with seizures (OR=7.0; 95% CI 1.6-31.7), problems after delivery (OR=5.9; 95% CI 1.2-24.6), and history of snoring (OR=6.5; 95% CI 4.5-9.5) were significantly associated with ACE. For children, their mother's exposure to some formal schooling was protective (OR=0.30; 95% CI 0.11-0.84) after controlling for age and sex. Human immunodeficiency virus was not found to be associated with ACE. CONCLUSIONS: ACE is less frequent in this part of rural South Africa than other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Improving obstetric services could prevent epilepsy. The relationship between snoring and ACE requires further investigation, as does the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to examine the increased risk in those with a family history of epilepsy.

Original publication




Journal article


Epilepsy Res

Publication Date





782 - 791


Case-control, Epilepsy, Population-based, Prevalence, Risk factors, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Child, Child, Preschool, Epilepsy, Female, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Middle Aged, Population Surveillance, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Rural Population, South Africa, Young Adult