HealthDay News — Nearly 80% of children with epilepsy have comorbidities, such as gastrointestinal disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

The new study included health information on more than a million Norwegian children from 2008 through 2013, of whom 6635 had a diagnosis of epilepsy. The data showed that nearly 4 out of 5 children with epilepsy had at least 1 other health issue. These included medical, neurological, developmental, or psychiatric problems. Just 30% of the children without epilepsy had additional health issues.

Children already diagnosed with complicated epilepsy had the highest overall levels of other health issues, but even the children with uncomplicated epilepsy were at risk compared to the general population.

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While experts have long been aware of the risk for other health issues in epilepsy patients, study author Richard Chin, MD, PhD, of the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, told HealthDay that the researchers “were surprised that it was as high as 80%.”

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Aaberg K, Bakken I, Lossius M, et al. Comorbidity and Childhood Epilepsy: A Nationwide Registry Study. Pediatrics. 2016; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-0921.