Seizure disorders among relatives of Kenyan children with severe falciparum malaria.
Versteeg AC., Carter JA., Dzombo J., Neville BG., Newton CRJC.
PURPOSE: The cause of seizures in children with falciparum malaria is unclear. In malaria endemic areas, children who develop severe falciparum malaria with seizures may have a genetically higher risk of epilepsy or febrile seizures. We used the history of seizures in relatives of children previously admitted with malaria to determine if there is evidence for a familial predisposition of seizures in children admitted with malaria and seizures or cerebral malaria. METHODS: Family history of seizures were obtained from the parents/guardians of 81 children (35 children previously admitted with severe malaria and 46 children matched for age who had not been admitted with severe malaria). Data were collected on frequency, duration, age of onset, presence of fever and causes of seizures. RESULTS: The prevalence of seizures in the relatives of children not admitted with severe malaria was 4.3%, of whom 2.2% had a history of seizures compatible with febrile seizures, and 1.1% with epilepsy. Overall the odds ratio (OR) for relations of children admitted with malaria, to have a seizure disorder was 1.41 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06-1.88]. There was a significant risk of the relatives dying if they had epilepsy [relative risk 1.88 (95% CI 1.11-3.19)], but not for other seizure disorders (i.e. febrile, single or unclassifiable seizures). CONCLUSION: Relatives of children admitted with severe falciparum malaria are more likely to have a seizure disorder compared with controls, but it is unclear if this is because of a genetic propensity or caused by exogenous factors such as malaria.