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Japan Tsunami Stress May be Linked to Seizures

First Posted: Jan 21, 2013 09:24 AM EST

There's another devastating result from the March 2011 tsunami caused by the 9.0 earthquake. A new study has shown that the number of seizure patients in a northern Japanese fishing community spiked in the weeks following the tsunami.

The Japanese study looked at 440 patient records from Kesennuma City Hospital; the city where the hospital was located was devastated by the tsunami. Thirteen patients were admitted with seizures in the eight weeks following the natural disaster. Previously, only one patient had been admitted in the two months before the incident.

Ichiyo Shibahara and his team examined the medical records from patients who were admitted to the neurosurgery ward weeks before and after the tsunami. They then compared them to the same time period each year between 2008 and 2010.

Their findings were telling. The team discovered that the time period in the year 2011 showed the most seizure patients. In addition, they found that of the 13 admitted, 11 of the patients had preexisting brain disorders and were taking anti-convulsive medication.

The study shows that an increased risk of seizures is possibly linked to stressful, life-threatening disasters. Previous studies that found the same result have been conducted in the past, but most lacked clinical data with multiple patients.

However, this particular study used a group that was small enough that the increase could be due to natural variation rather than to the effects of the natural disaster. At least one patient was unable to refill his medication during the weeks after the disaster.

The study was published in the journal Epilepsia.

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