October 19, 2020

Where Have the Children With Epilepsy Gone? An Observational Study of Seizure-Related Accesses to Emergency Department at the Time of COVID-19

Abstract, originally published in Seizure

Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdown measures drastically changed health care and emergency services utilization. This study evaluated trends in emergency department (ED) access for seizure-related reasons in the first 8 weeks of lockdown in Italy.

Methods: All ED accesses of children (<14 years of age) at two university hospitals, in Turin and Rome, Italy, between January 6, 2020 and April 21, 2020, were examined and compared with the corresponding periods of 2019.

Results: During the COVID-19 lockdown period (February 23-April 21, 2020), there was a 72 % decrease in all pediatric ED accesses over the corresponding 2019 period (n = 3,395 vs n = 12,128), with a 38 % decrease in seizure-related accesses (n = 41 vs n = 66). The observed decrease of seizure-related ED accesses was not accompanied by significant changes in age, sex, type of seizure, or hospitalization rate after the ED visit.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 lockdown was accompanied by a sudden decrease in seizure-related hospital emergency visits. School closure, social distancing, reduced risk of infection, and increased parental supervision are some of the factors that might have contributed to the finding.