While epilepsy and migraines in children and adolescents are closely related neurologic disorders, youth with epilepsy face a significantly higher risk of dying prematurely.

In a study of children in South Carolina with epilepsy, migraines, or lower extremity fractures, children with epilepsy had almost a 4-fold increased risk of dying compared with children who had broken a bone or who experienced migraines.

Other neurodevelopmental conditions that arise in addition to a child's epilepsy appear to explain the higher risk of premature death, and fragmentation of the medical care system in dealing with multi-organ diseases in children with epilepsy likely plays a significant role.

"Well-coordinated medical care in managing both the epilepsy and the comorbid conditions can reduce the risk of death in children with epilepsy. Doctors with various specialties need to develop a team approach in treating these children to maximize their wellbeing," said Dr. Anbesaw Selassie, lead author of the Epilepsia study. The study, which was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, included 56,781 children who were treated from 2000 to 2011 for epilepsy, migraine, or lower extremity fractures and were followed until death or through 2011.

Study: Population-based comparative analysis of risk of death in children and adolescents with epilepsy and migraine, Selassie, A. W., Wilson, D. A., Wagner, J. L., Smith, G. and Wannamaker, B. B., Epilepsia, doi: 10.1111/epi.13219, published online 14 December 2015.