It’s estimated that about 1.2 percentTrusted Source of U.S. people have active epilepsy. This comes out to about 3.4 million people nationwide — and more than 65 million globally.

Additionally, about 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point during their lifetime.

Epilepsy can begin at any age. Studies haven’t identified a prime diagnosis time, but the incidence rate is highest in young children under age 2 and adults aged 65 or older.

Luckily, according to the Child Neurology Foundation, about 50 to 60 percent of children with seizures will eventually grow out of them and never experience seizures as an adult.

Ages afflicted

Worldwide, a quarterTrusted Source of all newly diagnosed cases of epilepsy are in children.

Of the more than 3 million Americans with epilepsyTrusted Source, 470,000 cases are children. Children account for 6.3 out of every 1000 cases of epilepsyTrusted Source.

Epilepsy is most commonly diagnosed before age 20 or after age 65, and that rate of new cases increases after age 55 when people are more likely to develop strokes, tumors, and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Child Neurology Foundation:

  • Among children with epilepsy, 30 to 40 percent have only the disease without provoked seizures. They have normal intelligence, learning capability, and behavior.
  • About 20 percent of children with epilepsy also have an intellectual disability.
  • Between 20 to 50 percent of children have normal intelligence but a specific learning disability.
  • A very small number also have a serious neurological disorder, like cerebral palsy.

Ethnicity specifics

Researchers are still unclear if ethnicity plays a role in who develops epilepsy.

It’s not straightforward. Researchers have a hard time pegging race as a significant cause for epilepsy. However, consider this information from the Epilepsy Foundation:

  • Epilepsy occurs more frequently in Hispanics than in non-Hispanics.
  • Active epilepsy is more frequent in whites than blacks.
  • Blacks have a higher lifetime prevalence than whites.
  • An estimated 1.5 percent of Asian Americans currently have epilepsy.

Gender specifics

Overall, no gender is more likely to develop epilepsy than the other. However, it’s possible each gender is more likely to develop certain subtypes of epilepsy.

For example, a 2008 studyTrusted Source found that symptomatic epilepsies were more common in men than women. Idiopathic generalized epilepsies, on the other hand, were more common among females.

Any differences that might exist can likely be attributed to biological differences in the two genders, as well as hormonal changes and social function.


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