Pertussis in Childhood Tied to Increase in Epilepsy Risk

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Pertussis in Childhood Tied to Small Increase in Epilepsy Risk
Pertussis in Childhood Tied to Small Increase in Epilepsy Risk

(HealthDay News) — Pertussis may be tied to a slightly increased risk of development of epilepsy in children, according to a study published in the Nov. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A team led by Morten Olsen, M.D., Ph.D., of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, looked at 4,700 Danish children with pertussis. The children in the study were born between 1978 and 2011 and were followed until the end of 2011. More than half (53 percent) had been diagnosed with pertussis before they were 6 months old. Each of the affected children was compared against 10 age- and gender-matched children in the general population.

Olsen's team reported that by age 10, epilepsy was diagnosed in 1.7 percent of children in the pertussis group and 0.9 percent of those in the general population. The age at which the child had contracted pertussis seemed to matter. Children older than 3 years old when they were diagnosed were no more likely to develop epilepsy than those in the general population.

"In Denmark, risk of epilepsy was increased in children with hospital-diagnosed pertussis infections compared with the general population; however, the absolute risk was low," the authors write.

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