Growth parameters and childhood epilepsy in Hai District, Tanzania: a community-based study

Jane J. Rogathi, Jim Todd, Ewan Hunter, Richard Walker, Antony Ngugie, Charles Newton, Kathryn Burton
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AIM: This cross-sectional study examined whether growth parameters were associated with epilepsy in children living in a rural community in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study was performed in the Hai District Demographic Surveillance Site (HDSS), Tanzania in which 6 to 14 year old children with epilepsy (CWE) were identified. Age matched controls were randomly selected from the Hai census database for comparison. Anthropometric measurements were used to assess the nutritional status of the children and body mass index (BMI) calculated. Associations  between social, demographic and nutritional factors and epilepsy were assessed using multivariable logistic regression.

RESULTS: 112 CWE were identified and were compared with 113 controls. There was no significant difference in the BMI between cases and controls (T-test, p-value of 0.117). Amongst cases, there were no significant associations between BMI and motor difficulties, antiepileptic drug use, cognitive or behavioural problems, early–onset epilepsy or seizure frequency. In the whole group, BMI was significantly associated with socio-economic status (p = 0.037) and age.

DISCUSSION: There was no significant difference found between CWE and matched controls with respect to nutritional status. This suggests that there is no causal association between under nutrition and epilepsy in this community. Nutritional assessment is still important as part of the comprehensive care of CWE.