Despite the myths, a full moon doesn't make epileptic seizures more frequent.
Patients were telling Dr. Selim Benbadis, a neurologist at the University of South Florida, that their seizures were triggered or worsened when the moon was full.
So Benbadis decided to apply scientific scrutiny to his patients' anecdotal tales. He and three colleagues analyzed 770 seizures, both epileptic and nonepileptic that were monitored at Tampa General Hospital from 1999 to 2001.
Among epileptic seizures, 103 occurred during the new moon, 121 during the first quarter, 94 during the full moon and 152 during the last quarter.
Not only did epileptic seizures fail to increase with the full moon, but "the number of epileptic seizures was at the lowest point during the full moon and at the highest point in the last quarter," said Benbadis. The study was posted May 10 on the online version of the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.
-- Jane E. Allen