UK epilepsy prevalence and incidence update

Published: January 17 2023
Last updated: January 17 2023

Map of the UKA new update on the number of new cases of epilepsy and the number of people with epilepsy in the UK has found differences between the nations.

The new UK study by Wigglesworth and colleagues aimed to provide an update on the incidence of epilepsy (the number of new cases) and the prevalence (the number of people with epilepsy) in the UK between 2013-2018.

The researchers used electronic health records of around 14 million people, representing around one fifth (20%) of the UK population.

The study found that overall in the UK, just over nine people would have epilepsy in every 1,000 people each year. This means that an estimated 633,000 people are living with epilepsy in the UK.

When looking individually at England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the team found there were slight differences.

In England this drops to just under nine people in every 1,000 having epilepsy a year. In Scotland, this was just over 10 people, in Wales it was over 11 people and in Northern Ireland it was over 12 people.

9 in 1000 people
in England have epilepsy
10 in 1000 people
in Scotland have epilepsy
11 in 1000 people
in Wales have epilepsy
12 in 1000 people
in Northern Ireland have epilepsy

More epilepsy in deprived areas

The team also looked at the incidence of epilepsy. They found that in the UK there would be around 43 new cases of epilepsy in every 100,000 people in one year.

Reflecting the pattern of prevalence, this was lower in England (37 people), and higher in Northern Ireland (46 people), Scotland (48 people) and Wales (55 people). Overall this means that there are 28,813 new cases of epilepsy each year in the UK, or 79 a day.

The study, published in Seizure, found that the prevalence and incidence of epilepsy is similar to that of other high-income countries, with peaks at younger and older age, and a dip in the middle. This is in contrast to the previous survey on incidence and prevalence, which didn’t show as much of a peak in older age.

The study authors said that while the prevalence of epilepsy has reduced slightly from 2011, there were significant differences between the different nations and between regions.

The researchers also noted that there was a connection between more deprived areas and a higher level of epilepsy, confirming previous findings. People in the most deprived areas of the UK are more than a third more likely to have epilepsy than those in the least deprived areas, which is something the study authors say needs more research.

You can find the full paper online.

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