April 11, 2016
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Type 1 diabetes increases risk for epilepsy

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Children with type 1 diabetes have a threefold greater risk for developing epilepsy, possibly due to increased hypoglycemia, according to study results.

In a retrospective, population-based study, I-Ching Chou, of China Medical University Children’s Hospital in Taichung, Taiwan, and colleagues analyzed claims data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. Each patient with type 1 diabetes (n = 2,568; mean age, 10 years) was matched by sex, residence area and index year to 10 patients without type 1 diabetes (n = 25,680; mean age, 11 years). Both cohorts were 46.5% boys, with approximately 60% of children living in highly urbanized areas. Researchers used Cox proportional hazard regression analysis to estimate the effects of type 1 diabetes on epilepsy risk. Confounding comorbidities included prior epilepsy, head injury, intellectual disabilities and low birth weight.

Researchers found the incidences of epilepsy were 33.7 per 10,000 person-years for children with type 1 diabetes vs. 10.4 per 10,000 person-years in the control group. After adjustment for age, sex, urbanization level, prior epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, low birth weight and head injury, the risk for epilepsy remained higher for children with type 1 diabetes (HR = 2.84; 95% CI, 2.11-3.83).

The risk for epilepsy increased further for children with type 1 diabetes and documented hypoglycemia vs. those without hypoglycemia (HR = 16.5; 95% CI, 5.19-52.3 vs. HR = 2.67; 95% CI, 1.97-3.62). Epilepsy also increased with type 1 diabetes severity (P < .0001 for trend).

“This result is consistent with those of previous studies in that epilepsy or seizures are observed in many autoimmune or inflammatory disorders and are linked to the primary disease or secondary to proinflammatory processes,” the researchers wrote. “Moreover, we determined that the proportion of intellectual disabilities in the type 1 diabetes cohort was significantly greater than that in the comparison cohort. Furthermore, children with an intellectual disability exhibited a significantly increased risk for epilepsy.” – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.