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Epilepsy Fast Facts

  • Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures.
  • There are many types of seizures and their symptoms can vary from a momentary disruption of the senses, to short periods of unconsciousness or staring spells, to convulsions.
  • Epilepsy can be described as a spectrum disorder because of its different causes, different seizure types, its range of co-existing conditions, and because the disorder can vary in severity and impact from person to person.
  • Epilepsy can be caused by many different conditions that affect a person’s brain (e.g., stroke, brain tumor, central nervous system infection, head injury). Often no definite cause can be found. Epilepsy cannot be transmitted from person to person.
  • Epilepsy affects about 2.3 million adults1 and 467,711 children 0-17 years of age2 in the United States.
  • About 1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their lives.3
  • About 150,000 new cases of epilepsy will be diagnosed in the United States each year.3
  • Epilepsy results in an estimated annual cost of $15.5 billion in medical costs and lost or reduced earnings and production.





1CDC 2012. Epilepsy in Adults and Access to Care — United States, 2010. MMWR 61(45);909-913

2National Survey of Children's Health. NSCH 2007. Data query from the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health website. Retrieved [1/12/2013] from

3IOM (Institute of Medicine). Epilepsy Across the Spectrum: Promoting Health and Understanding. Wahsington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.

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