Treatment-resistant epilepsy common in idiopathic autism

Apr 19, 2011

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). Full findings appear online in Epilepsia, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), (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 in ranges from 7% to 46%.

Researchers on the present study team, 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 evaluated at the Center during a 20-year period. Seizures were classified using ILAE criteria, with treatment resistance defined as failure of adequate trials of two tolerated AED regimens. "Treatment-resistant epilepsy is common among patients with autism, and more than one-third of patients in our study group had TRE," said Dr. Devinsky. "Among patients for whom we had complete AED and control data, 55% had TRE."

Among the 127 patients with autism and at least one epileptic seizure, 34% had TRE and 28% were seizure-free. The remaining 39% 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.

Three patients had surgical resection and one underwent anterior callosotomy; these surgical treatments provided little or no improvement in seizure status. In nine patients with vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) implantation, limited improvement of seizures was noted in two patients and no improvement in seven patients. "In patients with autism, we found that surgical and VNS outcomes were less favorable, providing a lower rate of seizure freedom, than in other TRE populations," concluded Dr. Devinsky. "Further studies are needed to explore the association between chronic epilepsy and autism."

Explore further: Ebola death toll rises to 5,420: WHO

More information: "Medically Refractory Epilepsy in Autism." Gemma Sansa, Chad Carlson, Werner Doyle, Howard Weiner, Judith Bluvstein, William Barr and Orrin Devinsky. Epilepsia; Published Online: April 19, 2011 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03069.x).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study confirms favorable long-term prognosis of epilepsy

Jun 14, 2010

A study conducted by researchers in The Netherlands confirmed that children with idiopathic new-onset epilepsy have a significantly higher rate of remission than those with remote symptomatic epilepsy. Results of this study ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in managing yellow fever disease

4 hours ago

Yellow fever is a disease that can result in symptoms ranging from fever to severe liver damage. Found in South America and sub-Saharan Africa, each year the disease results in 200,000 new cases and kills ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.