Epilepsy: 10 French people out of 1,000 treated for this disease revealing both social and territorial inequalities

Epilepsy: 10 French people out of 1,000 treated for this disease revealing both social and territorial inequalities


Around ten French people out of 1,000 are treated for epilepsy, a disabling disease that is still poorly understood, or nearly 700,000 people, estimates a study published Thursday by Public health France, which shows strong social and territorial inequalities.

“As of January 1, 2020, 685,122 people with treated epilepsy were identified in France, of whom 41% had been hospitalized and 29% had a long-term condition status,” estimates the agency based on Health Insurance data, dating back to pre-Covid.

With a frequency of treated epilepsy of 10.2 per 1,000 inhabitants – identical for men and women – France is at a level close to the United States or the United Kingdom, indicates SpF. Another observation: the prevalence of epilepsy increases with age, and earlier in men (from the age of 40) than in women, mainly due to comorbidities, particularly cardiovascular ones.

A “marker of health inequalities”

This pathology is also a “marker of health inequalities”. On the territory, the frequency of epilepsy is very variable, with “a concentration of the highest rates in a North-East/South-West diagonal, in the Northern departments, as well as in certain overseas departments and regions. -sea like Reunion”.

“These territorial inequalities are partly explained by the frequency of associated cardiovascular comorbidities and the socio-economic precariousness of these territories,” specifies SpF. Social inequalities also weigh.

Epilepsy varies depending on the territory. Screenshot/SpF.

Thus, the frequency of epilepsy “increases regularly with social disadvantage”, notes the agency, with “a difference of 42% between the most disadvantaged quintile (10.1 cases per 1,000 inhabitants) compared to the less disadvantaged (7.1 cases per 1,000 inhabitants).”

Stigmatizing convulsions

And, according to the authors of the study, the increase in the incidence of first epileptic seizures among socially disadvantaged people could “partly be explained by exposure to intrauterine toxicants and during early childhood , and pollution. A chronic illness marked by repeated convulsive attacks, epilepsy is disabling personally but also socially.

“Stigma, side effects of epilepsy treatment and associated comorbidities can lead to greater difficulty in finding or keeping a job for sick people, or even to a drop in income,” illustrates SpF.

According to the World Health Organization, some 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, one of the most common neurological conditions.


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