There are few studies on long-term mortality in prospectively followed, well-characterized cohorts of children with epilepsy. We report on long-term mortality in a Finnish cohort of subjects with a diagnosis of epilepsy in childhood.
We assessed seizure outcomes and mortality in a population-based cohort of 245 children with a diagnosis of epilepsy in 1964; this cohort was prospectively followed for 40 years. Rates of sudden, unexplained death were estimated. The very high autopsy rate in the cohort allowed for a specific diagnosis in almost all subjects.
Sixty subjects died (24%); this rate is three times as high as the expected age- and sex-adjusted mortality in the general population. The subjects who died included 51 of 107 subjects (48%) who were not in 5-year terminal remission (i.e., =5 years seizure-free at the time of death or last follow-up). A remote symptomatic cause of epilepsy (i.e., a major neurologic impairment or insult) was also associated with an increased risk of death as compared with an idiopathic or cryptogenic cause (37% vs. 12%, P