Video games link with epilepsy to be explored

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The Independent Online
A NATIONAL survey to investigate the link between computer games and fits in children was announced yesterday, writes Liz Hunt.

The Government-backed study aims to discover how many children with no previous history of epilepsy suffer seizures while playing computer games. The findings will provide guidelines for the public, and could lead to regulatory action against games manufacturers by the Department of Trade and Industry. The Epilepsy Research Group expects to report within a year. Manufacturers have declined to support the study.

About 30,000 cases of epilepsy are diagnosed each year and 1,200 of these - mostly children and young adults - suffer photosensitive epilepsy. Their fits are triggered by flashing or flickering lights, or geometric patterns or shapes.

Earlier this year, there were reports of children having epileptic fits while playing Sega and Nintendo games. An estimated 6 million homes in Britain have these games.

Booklets with the games warn of a possible link with epilepsy in a minority of people, but manufacturers have proved resistant to putting warnings on packs.

Services for epilepsy are 'poor in quality, fragmentary and poorly organised', a Government report has found. The Epilepsy Needs Document says many of the 350,000 sufferers are missing out on the best treatment.

Unrecorded deaths, page 13