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Epilepsy Common in Autism

April 20, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — A new study found that treatment-resistant epilepsy (TRE) is common in idiopathic autism. Early age at the onset of seizures and delayed global development were associated with a higher frequency of resistance to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can significantly impact social interaction, communication and behavior. The CDC estimates that, on average, 1 in 110 U.S. children has an ASD (which is four-times more likely to develop in boys than in girls). Medical evidence suggests that the prevalence of epilepsy in autism ranges from 7 percent to 46 percent.

Researchers, led by Orrin Devinsky, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and Director of the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in New York, reviewed clinical and laboratory data for patients with idiopathic autism who were evaluated at the Center during a 20-year period.

“Treatment-resistant epilepsy is common among patients with autism, and more than one-third of patients in our study group had TRE,” Dr. Devinsky was quoted as saying. “Among patients for whom we had complete AED and seizure control data, 55 percent had TRE.”

Among the 127 patients with autism and at least one epileptic seizure, 34 percent had TRE and 28 percent were seizure-free. The remaining 39 percent of patients with autism and epilepsy had infrequent seizures or insufficient data to properly categorize them. In patients with TRE, researchers found that seizure onset was at an earlier age than in patients who were seizure-free. TRE patients also had more developmental regression as well as motor and language delays than seizure-free participants.

SOURCE: Epilepsia, published online April 19, 2011




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