May 27, 2022

ED Visits for Seizures, Epilepsy Decreased During Pandemic, Especially in Young Children

Article published in Healio

Seizure- and epilepsy-related emergency department visits decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with pre-pandemic levels, with the largest drop seen among young children, per a study in MMWR.

“Seizures generally account for approximately 1% of all emergency department visits,” Sanjeeb Sapkota, MBBS, MPH, of the Center for Global Health at the CDC, and colleagues wrote. “Persons of any age can experience seizures, and outcomes might range from no complications for those with a single seizure to increased risk for injury, comorbidity, impaired quality of life and early mortality for those with epilepsy.”

Seeking to examine trends in weekly seizure- or epilepsy-related ED visits in the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC researchers analyzed data from January 2019 to December 2021 using the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP), which collects deidentified electronic health record data from EDs and other health care settings.

Results showed that all ED visits, including seizure-related ones, decreased among all age groups and sexes during the pandemic period from April 1 to Dec. 29, 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. The largest decline in seizure-related ED visits, noted as early as February 2020, was observed among children aged 0 to 9 years.