Who gets epilepsy?

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Epilepsy can affect anyone. About 3 million adults and 470,000 children in the U.S. were living with epilepsy in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s roughly one in 100 people.

Key facts about epilepsy include:

  • Frequency: Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurologic condition in the U.S., after migraine, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Onset: The disorder is most often diagnosed before age 20. It’s most common in children under age 2 and adults over age 65.
  • Gender: Men are slightly more likely than women to develop epilepsy.
  • Race and ethnicity: Epilepsy affects people of all races and ethnicities around the world. Some groups have a slightly higher or lower risk, but the differences are small.
  • Heredity: Genetic defects related to epilepsy can be passed down in families. Certain types of epilepsy are more likely to have a genetic cause. Experts are still researching possible genetic causes. Learn about genetic testing at OHSU.

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