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Full moon "does not trigger" seizures

2 June, 2004

The full moon does not influence the frequency of epileptic seizures, according to a study from the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

Dr Selim Benbadis, associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the College said:

"Contrary
to the myth, epileptic seizures are not more common during a full moon.
In fact, we found the number of epileptic seizures was lowest during
the full moon and highest in the moon's last quarter."

Dr
Benbadis said he decided to investigate the possible relationship
between phases of the moon and the frequency of seizures after
repeatedly hearing patients claim that their seizures were triggered or
worsened by the full moon, claiming that even some health care
professionals believe this.

The study, published in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, analysed 770 seizures recorded over three years in the epilepsy monitoring unit at Tampa General Hospital,
dividing the seizures into epileptic seizures and psychogenic
nonepileptic seizures. The most epileptic seizures, 152, were recorded
in the moon's last quarter. The researchers found epileptic seizures
decreased to their lowest number, 94, during the full moon.

The full moon appeared to slightly, but not significantly, increase non-epileptic seizures.

Other
studies exploring the potential connection of lunar phases with heart
attacks, birth rates, suicides, and psychiatric hospital admissions
have found little or no association.

Dr Benbadis added:

"In
the past, before physicians recognized that epilepsy was caused by
processes in a person's own body, the disease's frightening seizures
were associated with demonic possession and witchcraft. Some people
still seem to like poetic, mysterious and irrational explanations for
puzzling diseases like epilepsy."