Prevalence of epilepsy in Bedouin children: A cross-sectional study in Southern Israel Academic Article uri icon


  • Since population-based data on epilepsy prevalence in Israel is not available, the aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of epilepsy in Bedouin children between the ages of 0-16 years living in Southern Israel. A cross-sectional study was conducted which included the collection of clinical and demographic data as well as the diagnosis of epilepsy in relatives (first/second-rank family connection). Data was collected from all 23 primary care clinics (Clallit health fund) in the Bedouin sector, Southern Israel, and from the computerized files of the neurology clinic, Soroka University medical center, Beer-Sheva. The study population consisted of 68,578 Bedouin children from birth to 16 years, of which 275 were diagnosed with epilepsy. The epilepsy prevalence of 4.01, is less than world estimate (4.5-17 per 1000), with huge differences between various clinics and age subgroups, ranging from 0 to 11.10. Most children received care only from their family doctor rather than from a neurologist and the type of epilepsy was not classified. Twenty-four families (74 children) had more than one relative of first or second rank suffering from epilepsy, indicating the existence of definite genetic involvement. Failure to diagnose and/or to refer suspected episodes of epilepsy to Soroka neurology clinic may be explained by either the failure to recognize the episode as epileptic or non-compliance due to fear of social stigma. Further research is necessary to explain these findings.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008