August 18, 2020

Prevalence of Epilepsy in Bangladesh: Results from a National Household Survey

Abstract published in Epilepsia Open

Objective: To determine the prevalence and types of epilepsy in Bangladesh.

Methods: Researchers conducted a nationwide population-based cross-sectional survey among Bangladeshi population of all ages, except children under one month. The team surveyed 9,839 participants (urban, 4,918; rural, 4,920) recruited at their households. Trained physicians with a neurology background confirmed the diagnosis of suspected epilepsy cases identified by interviewer-administered questionnaires. The researchers reported the overall and sex, residence, and age groups-specific prevalence of epilepsy per 1,000 people with 95% confidence interval.

Results: The national prevalence of epilepsy per 1,000 was 8.4 (95% CI 5.6–11.1); urban 8.0 (4.6–11.4), and rural 8.5 (5.60–11.5). The prevalence in adult males and females was 9.2 (5.7–12.6) and 7.7 (3.6–11.7), respectively. The prevalence in children aged <18 years (8.2 [3.4-13.0]) was similar to that in adults (8.5 [5.4-11.4]). Among all epilepsy cases, 65.1% had active epilepsy. Of them, 63.4% were not receiving treatment, and, even among those who were receiving treatment, 72.5% had low adherence, leading to a high treatment gap.

Significance: The findings from this first-ever national survey were similar to that in other Asian countries. However, the prevalence of active epilepsy and treatment gap were considerably higher. This study serves useful evidence for tailoring interventions aimed to reduce the burden of epilepsy – primarily through targeted community awareness program – and access to antiepileptic treatment in health facilities in Bangladesh.

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