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June 1983

Submersion Accidents and Epilepsy

Author Affiliations

Department of Community Health
Department of Neurology University of Kansas School of Medicine 39th Street and Rainbow Boulevard Kansas City, KS 66103

Am J Dis Child. 1983;137(6):604-605. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1983.02140320080022

Sir.—Although athletic participation by patients with seizures has been controversial for 40 years, most recent literature has focused on involvement in contact sports. In their article, "Submersion Accidents in Children With Epilepsy" (Journal 1982;136: 777-780), we agree with Orlowski et al that parents and physicians should consider the potential danger of water sports in the future. We have reanalyzed Orlowski and colleagues' Table (p 778) and find that we cannot concur with their interpretation and subsequent risk statement.

The authors compare "percentages of persons with epilepsy who experienced drowning or near-drowning" with "the 1% incidence of epilepsy... in the general population of children." They calculate these percentages by combining data from six studies listed in their Table: 4.0% for fatal submersion accidents and 4.5% for nonfatal submersion accidents. We suggest that this study contains three major inaccuracies: (1) the Table uses highly different data sources, time periods, and methods