Video game link to epilepsy dismissed

PLAYING video games is no more likely to trigger an epileptic seizure in susceptible children than watching television, scientists said yesterday, dismissing claims that electronic screen games are causing fits on a large scale in low- risk groups.

The results of the first national study into links between such games and epilepsy show they 'very rarely' trigger a seizure in people without a known history of the disease.

Manufacturers are delighted that the Department of Trade and Industry, which commissioned the study, has published interim findings now - 60 per cent of video games are sold just before Christmas.

Each year about 30,000 people have a first seizure and of these up to 150 are affected while playing a video game, the study found. The vast majority have a genetic predisposition to a form of epilepsy triggered by flickering light, according to Dr David Fish of the National Society of Epilepsy, who led the study.

'Roughly the same number of photosensitive people (150) will have their first seizure triggered by watching television,' he said yesterday.

Each year there are about 600 cases of photosensitive epilepsy, 80 per cent in 7 to 19- year-olds. There is no evidence that photosensitivity can be caused by light sources.