Publication Date



Brain Communications


Understanding the clinical characteristics and medical treatment of individuals affected by genetic epilepsies is instrumental in guiding selection for genetic testing, defining the phenotype range of these rare disorders, optimizing patient care pathways and pinpointing unaddressed medical need by quantifying healthcare resource utilization. To date, a matched longitudinal cohort study encompassing the entire spectrum of clinical characteristics and medical treatment from childhood through adolescence has not been performed. We identified individuals with genetic and non-genetic epilepsies and onset at ages 0–5 years by linkage across the Cleveland Clinic Health System. We used natural language processing to extract medical terms and procedures from longitudinal electronic health records and tested for cross-sectional and temporal associations with genetic epilepsy. We implemented a two-stage design: in the discovery cohort, individuals were stratified as being ‘likely genetic’ or ‘non-genetic’ by a natural language processing algorithm, and controls did not receive genetic testing. The validation cohort consisted of cases with genetic epilepsy confirmed by manual chart review and an independent set of controls who received negative genetic testing. The discovery and validation cohorts consisted of 503 and 344 individuals with genetic epilepsy and matched controls, respectively. The median age at the first encounter was 0.1 years and 7.9 years at the last encounter, and the mean duration of follow-up was 8.2 years. We extracted 188,295 Unified Medical Language System annotations for statistical analysis across 9659 encounters. Individuals with genetic epilepsy received an earlier epilepsy diagnosis and had more frequent and complex encounters with the healthcare system. Notably, the highest enrichment of encounters compared with the non-genetic groups was found during the transition from paediatric to adult care. Our computational approach could validate established comorbidities of genetic epilepsies, such as behavioural abnormality and intellectual disability. We also revealed novel associations for genitourinary abnormalities (odds ratio 1.91, 95% confidence interval: 1.66–2.20, P = 6.16 × 10−19) linked to a spectrum of underrecognized epilepsy-associated genetic disorders. This case-control study leveraged real-world data to identify novel features associated with the likelihood of a genetic aetiology and quantified the healthcare utilization of genetic epilepsies compared with matched controls. Our results strongly recommend early genetic testing to stratify individuals into specialized care paths, thus improving the clinical management of people with genetic epilepsies.


electronic health record, genetics, epilepsy, phenotyping

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Neurology Commons



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