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40% of epilepsy in Nigerian children due to brain injury

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An expert in child health, Professor Ike Lagunju has raised the alarm over increasing number of children suffering epilepsy in Nigeria.

Lagunju who is the Head of Paediatrics, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan spoke at the media briefing by the hospital’s Institute of Neurosciences on Monday to mark the 2018 World Purple Day for Epilepsy disclosed that the hospital records over 300 new cases every year among children.

The don, who noted that about 50 million people living with epilepsy globally said about three million Nigerians suffered from the disease.

She however, disclosed that 40 per cent children of children with epilepsy had it as a result of brain injury from a head injury from falls, Okada accidents, infections that affect the brain such as meningitis and cerebral malaria as well as lack of immunisation.

Although some cases of epilepsy were caused by alcohol and hard drug addiction in adolescents, she said adequate immunisation of children, uptake of good antenatal care and skill birth deliveries could have averted some cases of epilepsy in these children.

She declared: “the causes of up to 80 per cent of epilepsy cases in developed countries are not directly apparent. But in Nigeria, close to 40 per cent of our children who have epilepsy develop it as a result of a prior injury to the brain.

“Mothers delivery under inappropriate conditions; labour is prolonged, babies are born with birth aphasia, and those babies end up with developmental delays, cerebral palsy and with epilepsy.

“Neonatal jaundice is not also recognised or treated on time and as such causing brain injury. So, the government still need to put in place a lot of preventive measures, including good facilities for mothers to deliver their babies and ensure wider immunisation coverage for children to reduce cases of epilepsy.”

The expert, saying that UCH, Ibadan, records about 300 new cases of epilepsy among children yearly, said put the economic burden of epilepsy among the lower socio-economic class at 40 to 50 per cent of family income.

She said myth such as epilepsy is caused by witchcraft, infectious, and touching the saliva of somebody with epilepsy can cause the disease had made people to be stigmatised and ostracised even though there are cheap and effective medicines for its treatment.


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