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01 April 2016

Study finds people with type 1 diabetes at increased risk of developing epilepsy

Researchers have found that people with type 1 diabetes have an almost three-times increased risk of developing epilepsy later in life.

The study, published in Diabetologia, used data from Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database to conduct retrospective analyses.  The study group consisted of 2,568 patients with type 1 diabetes, each of whom was compared with ten control patients without type 1 diabetes.  The study group and the ten control patients were matched by sex, urbanisation of residence area and index year. 

After adjusting the results for potential factors that could affect the results such as prior epilepsy and head injury, researchers found that the type 1 diabetes group was 2.84 times more likely to develop epilepsy than the control cohort.

The study authors said: "This result is consistent with those of previous studies in that epilepsy or seizures are observed in many autoimmune or inflammatory disorders and are linked to the primary disease, or secondary to pro-inflammatory processes."

The study concludes: "Patients with type 1 diabetes are at an increased risk of developing epilepsy. Metabolic abnormalities of type 1 diabetes, such as hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia, may have a damaging effect on the central nervous system and be associated with significant long-term neurological consequences. The causative factors between type 1 diabetes and the increased risk of epilepsy require further investigation."