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Anime not as Epileptic as previously thought

posted on 2001-02-27 22:51 EST
New light shed on epileptic seizure inducing episode of Pokémon.

Source: UMJAMS Anime News

A study published in the latest Southern Medical Journal says that the infamous POKEMON induced epilepsy scare, which saw 13,000 Japanese children seek medical attention after watching a strobe explosion on an episode of Pokémon, was for the most part a fake. Researchers said the media most likely helped ignite the public's panic.

The incident occured on Dec. 16, 1997, after an episode of POKEMON was broadcast on Japanese TV. A half hour after the show ended, 618 children were rushed to Japanese hospitals, with symptoms that suggested epileptic seizures, including convulsions, lapses in awareness, nausea, headaches and blurred vision.

The NEW YORK POST reports: "Doctors first said the seizures were due to photosensitive epilepsy - the result of a scene in the cartoon that included a series of strobe-like flashes. Within two days some 13,000 children needed medical help for seizures."

The POST said: "But experts now say only a small fraction of the kids were actually diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy. In the February issue of the Southern Medical Journal, researcher Benjamin Radford writes: "There's certainly no question that there were at least some epileptic children who were affected. Clearly, some children had photosensitive epilepsy. The answer is that it triggered a case of mass hysteria. What I found most interesting is the notion of how an idea can spread from person to person, and be transformed into physical symptoms."

The POST said: "Epilepsy Foundation spokesman Peter Van Haverbeke says TV screens can influence epileptic attacks - but that rarely happens. "It seems fairly unlikely that one cartoon would cause 13,000 children to have seizures," he said." The entire story can be read here.

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