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Preterm Birth Associated With Epilepsy in Swedish Adults

Association is independent of fetal growth, and increases with earlier gestational age

MONDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Preterm birth before 37 weeks is strongly associated with epilepsy in Swedish adults aged 25 to 37 years, and is not mediated by cerebral palsy or other comorbidities, according to a study published online Oct. 3 in Neurology.

Casey Crump, M.D., Ph.D., from Stanford University in Calif., and colleagues examined whether preterm birth was associated with epilepsy in 630,090 infants born in Sweden from 1973 to 1979. A total of 27,953 preterm births were identified, and followed up from 2005 to 2009 for hospitalization for epilepsy, and inpatient and outpatient prescription of antiepileptic drugs.

The investigators identified a strong correlation between preterm birth and epilepsy, which increased with earlier gestational age. The odds ratios for hospitalization for epilepsy were found to be 4.98, 1.98, and 1.76 for those born at 23 to 31 weeks, 32 to 34 weeks, and 35 to 36 weeks, respectively, relative to those born full term, after adjusting for fetal growth and potential confounders. There was a similar but weaker trend for the correlation between preterm birth and antiepileptic drug prescription. These associations remained after exclusion of individuals with cerebral palsy, cerebrovascular disease, inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, and brain tumors.

"Preterm birth, including late preterm birth, is strongly associated with an increased risk of epilepsy in Swedish adults at 25 to 37 years of age," the authors write.

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