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US Survey: Teens Lack Epilepsy Awareness (Reuters) ... has been known to result from head trauma, and lead or alcohol poisoning, as well as from brain tumors and stroke.... - Oct 25 5:22 PM ET

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 10/25/2001

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Thursday October 25 5:19 PM ET "US Survey: Teens Lack Epilepsy Awareness"

US Survey: Teens Lack Epilepsy Awareness

By Charnicia E. Huggins

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many US teenagers believe their peers with epilepsy are more likely to get picked on and to be unpopular, according to the results of a new national survey on the topic. And the reason may be a lack of education among young people and general misconceptions about the condition, findings indicate.

The survey results show that "teens that lacked information about epilepsy engaged in behaviors that were stigma-producing," Eric R. Hargis, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation, told Reuters Health.

In light of this, the foundation is mounting a November "Entitled to Respect" epilepsy awareness campaign that will target teenagers.

Almost half of the more than 19,000 US teenagers surveyed from March through July 2001 said they had never heard of epilepsy or read anything about it. While only 4% incorrectly thought the condition was contagious, another 22% were not sure if it was contagious and 23% didn't know enough about the condition to say one way or the other.

What's more, roughly 4 in 10 teens said that they might not or would not tell their friends if they had epilepsy--a finding that seems to hint at the social stigma surrounding the condition, according to the report.

This stigmatization was also evidenced in the finding that more than 40% of the youth believed that having epilepsy might or would make them unpopular, and 37% said it would increase the likelihood of them getting picked on. On the other hand, 11% said they would not date someone with epilepsy and 44% were unsure whether or not they would date someone with epilepsy.

"In an age of political correctness, stigma and discrimination have gone underground," Hargis said.

Nearly 7 in 10 respondents, however, and females in particular, said they would want their friend to tell them if he or she had epilepsy.

Many teens were also misinformed about the extent to which epilepsy impacted an individual's lifestyle, survey findings show.

For example, 40% of survey participants either said they were not sure if epileptic individuals attend regular schools or incorrectly responded that they do not attend regular schools. Only 42% were aware that individuals with epilepsy are usually able to work and slightly less than one-third knew that many epileptic individuals are able to drive.

Females and whites were more likely to be informed about epilepsy than males and individuals of other racial groups, whereas younger individuals held more misconceptions about the condition than older teenagers.

Epilepsy is the third most common neurological condition after stroke and Alzheimer's disease (news - web sites) and is often characterized by seizures. It affects over 2 million Americans, including 300,000 teenagers, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. In most cases, its cause is unknown, but it has been known to result from head trauma, and lead or alcohol poisoning, as well as from brain tumors and stroke. Treatments include medication, surgery, a special diet, or electrical stimulation therapy.

For more information about epilepsy or the Entitled to Respect campaign, contact the Epilepsy Foundation at (800) 332-1000 or visit their Web site at

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Researchers Condemn Poor Epilepsy Care in UK (October 18)

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