Population-based comparative analysis of risk of death in children and adolescents with epilepsy and migraine

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Follow-up studies of children and adolescents with epilepsy (CAW-E) have revealed higher risk of mortality than children in the general population. The mortality experience of CAW-E relative to patients with other common neurologic disorders in the pediatric age group is yet undetermined. The objectives of this study are the following: (1) to compare the causes and the adjusted risk of death in CAW-E with that of children and adolescents with migraine (CAW-M) in reference to children and adolescents with lower extremity fracture (CAW-LEF), and children and adolescents in the general population; (2) to evaluate if disparate mortality risks exist by demographic characteristics.


This retrospective cohort study included 56,781 children and adolescents 0–18 years of age hospitalized or treated in an emergency or outpatient department from 2000 to 2011 for epilepsy, migraine, or lower extremity fracture from all nonfederal health care facilities. Data on deaths were acquired from linked multiple causes of death data file using person-specific unique identifiers. Time of follow-up was from initial clinical encounter to time of death or censoring date of December 31, 2011. The association of risk characteristics with mortality was examined with Cox proportional hazard model after adjusting for potential confounders.


Four hundred forty-seven CAW-E and 125 CAW-M died yielding mortality rates of 8.71 and 1.36 per 1,000 person-years, respectively. The 5-year risk of death was 4.38% for CAW-E, 0.68% for CAW-M, and 0.71% for CAW-LEF. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were 3.81 (95% confidence interval [CI] 3.08–3.72) in CAW-E and 1.14 (95% CI 0.94–1.34) in CAW-M relative to CAW-LEF. Risk of death from neurodevelopmental comorbidities was 5.86 (95% CI 4.24–8.08) times greater than those without in the model that compared epilepsy with LEF.


There is an elevated risk of death in CAW-E with neurodevelopmental comorbidities that remains to be proven.

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