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Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy

Posted Jul 28 2010 2:48pm

When a parent or grandparent has a child with seizures to care for, the seizures themselves are enough of a worry without the added possiblity that a sudden death could occur. In a July 27, 2010 article in the New York Times by Aliyah Baruchin, the statistics are given that 18% of all deaths in patients with epilepsy are due to sudden deaths. This condition is now being call, Sudep. The article states that those at greatest risk are individuals with IQs below 70, African-Americans with seizures disorders, and patients who are not consistent about taking their anti-seizure medications. The usual age of those affected are young adults between twenty and forty.

With the increasing number of children being diagnosed on the autism spectrum and the possiblity of seizures in as many as 30%, this is certainly of great concern. The article mentions that in Britain  they are using special mattress with alarms and special pillows. Certainly something should be available in this country as are apnea alarms for infants.

It wouild seem important for parents to be told of the possibility of a sudden death so that they could take special precautions. According to the article, an effort is being made to educate parents, patients, and neurologists. I think that pediatricians, family doctors, and internists should also be made aware of Sudep.

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