Health
‘Parasites, poor antenatal care main causes of epilepsy’
Publish Date: Feb 08, 2013
newvision
  • mail
  • img

By Joyce Nyakato
 
Parasites and poor antenatal care are the main causes of epilepsy in sub-Saharan Africa. The findings of a study titled, Prevalence of active convulsive epilepsy in sub-Saharan Africa and associated risk factors: cross-sectional and case-control studies, were published on Friday in the Lancet Neurology Journal, reveals. 
 
The study was conducted by the International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana.
 
It targeted 1,711 people that had already been diagnosed as having active convulsive epilepsy. These, along with 2,033, who did not have epilepsy, were given a questionnaire to complete about their lifestyle habits. They also had their blood samples taken to test for exposure to malaria, HIV and other parasitic diseases that are common in the developing world. 
 
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions worldwide and is more common in poor countries. This study in sub-Saharan Africa has been the first to reveal the true extent of the neurological problem and the associated risk factors. 
 
The study chose to focus on people with convulsive epilepsies as they are the most reliably detected and reported and there remains a substantial stigma attached to patients with the disease. It was found that those who had been exposed to parasitic diseases were more likely to have epilepsy than those who had not. 
 
“Epilepsy had previously been linked with various parasite infections, but this is the first study to reveal the extent of the problem,” says Dr. Anthony Ngugi, one of the leading researchers. He says several studies had been done before, but did not exactly tell if the risk factors were the same throughout Africa.
 
The most common parasitic infection identified as a risk factor was onchocerciasis (Infestation with slender threadlike roundworms deposited under the skin by the bite of black fleas), which is most common in parts of western Uganda and northern Tanzania.
 
Among children, the greatest risk factors for developing epilepsy were complications associated with delivery and head injury. Ngugi explains that the researchers gave questionnaires to parents or guardians of children who had convulsive epilepsy, to find out the circumstances surrounding their birth.
 
Prof. Charles Newton from the Wellcome Trust Programme at the Kenyan Medical Research Institute and the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, who led the study, also noted that the study demonstrates that many cases of epilepsy could be entirely preventable with elimination of parasites in Africa. 
 
Some of these have been controlled in some areas. The incidence of epilepsy could be reduced by 30%-60% with appropriate control measures. The study recommends that programmes to control parasitic diseases and access to better antenatal care could substantially reduce the prevalence of the disease in this region.
 
Facilities for diagnosis, treatment and on-going management of epilepsy are virtually non-existent in many of the world’s poorest regions. That is why it is important that the health systems improve care of pregnant mothers so they can have safe deliveries.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Dr. Mawanda’s miraculous recovery from Ebola
For a man who was at the edge of the grave after suffering multiple organ failure, it is a miracle Mawanda is alive....
EU calls for 5,000 doctors to fight Ebola
The European Commission called for 5,000 doctors to be sent from EU states to combat west Africa's Ebola epidemic....
Elderly should take cholesterol-lowering drugs
Nearly everyone aged 66 to 75 should consider taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke....
Should you really go for that barbecue?
Nutritionists warn that barbecues could be a recipe for disaster because such food contributes to the risk of cancer....
Can robots help stop the Ebola outbreak?
The US military has enlisted a new germ-killing weapon in the fight against Ebola - a four-wheeled robot that can disinfect a room in minutes with pulses of ultraviolet light....
Carbs more harmful than saturated fats - study
Carbohydrates are linked to heightened levels of a fatty acid linked to increased risk for diabetes and heart disease....
Should Govt lease parts of Lake Victoria to private developers?
Its Ok
No Way
Not Sure
follow us
subscribe to our news letter