Neuroinfections, head trauma and metabolic abnormalities contribute significantly to the burden of epilepsy in India
The staggering number of nearly 1.5 million women of reproductive age in India battling epilepsy highlights a critical need for personalized care and support. Despite medical advances, this demographic faces significant challenges, including the teratogenic effects of antiepileptic drugs and higher rates of infertility, experts say.
On National Epilepsy Day, neurologists at Kochi’s Amrita Hospital emphasized the urgent need for greater awareness on early detection and treatment of epileptic seizures in young women. They expressed deep concern about the insufficient care provided to women with epilepsy, influenced by cultural beliefs, social stigma and inadequate health infrastructure.
Dr Siby Gopinath, Epileptologist and Professor of Neurology at Amrita Hospital, Kochi, said: “Epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, affects approximately 50 million people worldwide, with a significant proportion residing in the India, home to between 10 and 12 million people, “Despite its prevalence, there is a considerable gap in the treatment of epilepsy, particularly in low-resource settings such as rural India.”
Understanding the various causes of epilepsy, including structural changes in the brain and metabolic alterations, is crucial for effective treatment. Neuroinfections, head trauma and metabolic abnormalities contribute significantly to the burden of epilepsy in India, especially among women of reproductive age.
Children are also substantially impacted: the highest incidence occurs in the first year of life and peaks between the ages of 1 to 12 years. Diagnosis in children poses challenges due to various seizure mimics, requiring evaluation by trained pediatric neurologists.
Accurate diagnosis is based on comprehensive neurological examinations and advanced neuroimaging studies, such as electroencephalogram (EEG) and brain scans. Preventive measures aimed at preventing falls and injuries, improving perinatal care, and treating modifiable risk factors play a crucial role in reducing the burden of epilepsy among women and children alike.
Treatment options include pharmacotherapy, surgical interventions, brain stimulation therapies, and dietary modifications such as ketogenic diets. However, challenges such as drug-refractory cases underscore the need for alternative therapies and precision medicine approaches tailored to individual patients.
Dr Ashok Pillai, Clinical Professor, Advanced Center for Robotic Surgery, Surgical Oncology and Neurosurgery, Amrita Advanced Epilepsy Centre, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, emphasized, “Epilepsy screening is vital for early detection and timely intervention. Implement health care and gentle birth practices.” “Essential management and vaccination protocols are crucial steps in the prevention of epilepsy. Early detection and awareness contribute to timely intervention, improving the overall well-being of women and children affected by epilepsy.”