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Age, sex and ethnic differentials in the prevalence and control of epilepsy among Sri Lankan children: a population-based study
  1. Jithangi Wanigasinghe1,
  2. Carukshi Arambepola2,
  3. Roshini Murugupillai3,
  4. Thashi Chang4
  1. 1 Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  2. 2 Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  3. 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health-Care Sciences, Eastern University, Sri Lanka, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
  4. 4 Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jithangi Wanigasinghe; jithangi{at}


Objective To estimate the prevalence of childhood epilepsy in Sri Lanka by different age groups (0–5, 6–10 and 11–16 years), sex and ethnicity, and to describe the types and outcomes of epilepsy.

Design and patients A population-based, cross-sectional study was conducted in the district considered to be ethnically most balanced in Sri Lanka. A door-to-door survey was performed in the 0–5 year age group (60 geographically defined areas as clusters; 19 children per cluster), and a school-based survey in the 6–16 year age group (150 classes as clusters; 25 children per cluster). The screened children with epilepsy were reviewed individually for confirmation of the diagnosis of epilepsy, typing of the underlying epilepsy syndrome and assessment of control. The same group of children were re-evaluated 1 year later to reconfirm the syndromic diagnosis and to assess the stability of control of epilepsy.

Results The overall prevalence of childhood epilepsy was 5.7 per 10 000 children aged 0–16 years (95% CI: 38 to 87). It was higher with younger ages (73.4 per 10 000 children aged 0–5 years; 55.1 per 10 000 children aged 6–10 years and 50.4 per 10 000 children aged 11–16 years). A male dominance was noted in both age groups. In each age group, the prevalence was highest in children of Sinhalese ethnicity. Symptomatic focal epilepsy was the single most common group of epilepsy in both age groups. Majority of children remained well controlled on medications.

Conclusion The findings indicate a relatively high burden of epilepsy among children in Sri Lanka, however, these were comparable to the burden of disease reported from other countries in the region.

  • childhood epilepsy
  • prevalence
  • Sri Lanka

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  • Contributors JW was responsible for overall conceptualisation, conduct of the study and obtaining the research funding in the capacity of the principal investigator. She was also responsible for evaluating all the screened patients with epilepsy at the local hospital. She was responsible for most of the writing of the article. CA was the epidemiologist who did all sample size calculations and the final data analysis and interpretation. She made a significant contribution toward compilation of the article. RM was involved in the data collection, compilation and data entry. Contributed toward modifications and finalising the article. TC was responsible for independent evaluation of the diagnosis of epilepsy in the population. He contributed significantly toward the improvement of the final draft of the paper.

  • Funding We confirm that we have read the journal’s position on issues involved in ethical publication and affirm that this report is consistent with those guidelines. This study received funding from the World Bank as part of the grant for better Higher Education in the Twentieth Century (HETC) (2012).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request.

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