Epilepsy in Canada

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that produces abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain. If uncontrolled, it results in recurrent seizures that vary in:

Frequency: Less than 1 per year to many per day

Form: Different symptoms and signs

Duration: A few seconds to a few minutes or longer

Canadians living with epilepsy can experience different health and social consequences.  With the right care, it is possible to manage epilepsy and limit or even prevent seizures.

Canadians living with epilepsy (2013–2014)
About 300,000 Canadians, or
  • 42,000 children/youth + 256,000 adults
  • 2X population of Prince Edward Island
Canadians newly diagnosed with epilepsy (2013–2014)
About 20,000 Canadians, or
  • 5,000 children/youth + 15,000 adults
  • 54 new cases every day

Prevalence in adults higher than in children/youth

  • 1-19 years: 545 per 100,000 individuals
  • 20+ years: 892 per 100,000 individuals

Incidence in children/youth higher than in adults

  • 1-19 years: 60 per 100,000 individuals
  • 20+ years: 53 per 100,000 individuals

Epilepsy in Canada


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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Date published: 2018

Proportion of Canadians living with epilepsy over time (2005–2006 to 2013–2014): Up by 1/3 in children/youth and by 1/4 in adults.

This increase is likely the result of an increasing rate of newly diagnosed epilepsy cases in children/youth and a decreasing rate of death due to any cause in Canadians with epilepsy.

Learn more about epilepsy in Canada

Data source: Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System (CCDSS), September 2017. Rates do not include data from Quebec. Prevalence and incidence numbers for Quebec were estimated based on Canadian rates and added to the Canadian total.

Acknowledgements: This work was made possible through collaboration between the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and all Canadian provincial and territorial governments, and expert contribution from the CCDSS Neurological Conditions Working Group. This infographic was developed by PHAC; no endorsement by the provinces and territories should be inferred.

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