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What is the connection between autism and epilepsy? Factors and Myths

Autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy are common neurological diseases in childhood, with an incidence of 0.5–1% in the worldwide population. ASD and epilepsy are caused by problems in neurodevelopment and are largely heritable. At the cellular level, both disorders may be caused by excitatory/inhibitory imbalance resulting from neurodevelopmental deficits of multiple origins.

In this regard, Dr. Rohit Pai, who is a consultant neurology at KMC Hospital, Mangalore, said, “Epilepsy in autism has two peaks, in infancy and around puberty, with the majority occurring around puberty. People with autism who also had intellectual disability were more likely to develop epilepsy. Autism occurs more commonly in males, but epilepsy is slightly more common in women on the autistic spectrum.”

Does epilepsy cause autism?

Talking about this, Dr. Rohit Pai said, “Conditions such as Landau Kleffner syndrome can develop language disorders that resemble autism, although are not autism. Current evidence is against this that most “In some cases, epilepsy is the cause of autism. It is important to treat epilepsy in a timely manner in people with autism.”

Dr Pramod Krishnan, who is HOD and consultant in Neurology Epileptology and Sleep Medicine at Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road, said, “Epilepsy can occur in any child with ASD, but also in those with certain genetic disorders such as Rett syndrome, Fragile X, Angelman., Prader-Willi syndrome, and some others are more likely to develop epilepsy. These children may have any type of seizures such as focal seizures, with or without awareness, generalized tonic-clonic seizures, myoclonus, atonic or absence seizures.”

“The difficulty in recognizing seizures in children with ASD is certainly a challenge because of the overlap of symptoms with phenomena such as communication barriers and persistent abnormal behavior and a variety of motor stereotypies. Noticeable red flags for seizures in such children are episodes of staring, unresponsiveness, or inattentiveness (which may be absence seizures or complex partial seizures); stiffness of limbs (which may be tonic seizures); Rhythmic tremors or shaking (which can be focal or generalized motor seizures),” he said.

What types of seizures occur in patients with autism?

Dr. Rohit Pai said, “Seizures can be partial (seizures affecting one part of the body), tonic (stiffness of the limbs), generalized tonic-clonic, atonic (generalized loss of tone), or absent (staring episode).” “There are certain epilepsy syndromes such as West syndrome that have an increased prevalence of autism.”

Factors that contribute to an increased risk of epilepsy in individuals with autism:

Dr. Naveen Kumar, a senior neurologist, Kamineni Hospital, LB Nagar, Hyderabad said, “Several factors may contribute to an increased risk of epilepsy in individuals with autism. It is believed that genetics play a role, as both conditions have a strong genetic component. Some studies suggest that certain genetic mutations or changes may be common to both autism and epilepsy. Additionally, abnormalities in brain structure and function, often seen in individuals with autism, may make them prone to seizures.”

,The onset of epilepsy in individuals with autism can vary widely, with some experiencing seizures during childhood and others developing them later in adolescence or adulthood. The type and severity of seizures can also vary between individuals. It is important for caregivers and individuals with autism to be aware of the potential risk of epilepsy and keep an eye out for any signs or symptoms. “Early identification and intervention may be important for the management of epilepsy and improving the overall quality of life of individuals with autism who may be affected by this co-morbidity,” he said.

Some common myths about epilepsy:

Dr Vijay Sharma, who is Associate Director and Head – Pediatrics and Pediatric Neurology at Asian Hospital Faridabad, debunks some common myths and provides accurate information about the condition.

Myth 1 – Epilepsy is genetic

Fact – Epilepsy can occur at any age, regardless of gender, ethnicity or financial status. Any person can be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their life. While some people are born with the disease, others are diagnosed for no apparent reason.

Myth 2 – If you have a seizure, you have epilepsy

Fact – Not all seizures are caused by epilepsy. Seizures can be caused by many causes, including high temperature, excessive drinking, brain trauma, brain infection, and tumors. To be diagnosed with epilepsy, the patient must have at least two unprovoked seizures.

Epilepsy is defined as a tendency to have repeated seizures that begin in the brain. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed when a person has experienced multiple seizures.

Myth 3 – People with epilepsy have low intelligence

Fact – On average, people with epilepsy have the same IQ as healthy people. Patients’ ability to learn will be affected only when the frequency and severity of seizures increases. People with this disease have the same abilities and intelligence as everyone else.

Some people suffer severe seizures and are unable to work; Others are successful and productive in demanding jobs.

Myth 4 – Epilepsy is contagious

Fact – Epilepsy is a neurological disease that is not spread by contact with someone who has seizures. You cannot communicate epilepsy to another person.

Myth 5 – People with epilepsy should not be in responsible and stressful jobs

Fact – Seizure disorders affect people from all walks of life and at all levels of business, government, arts and professions. We are not always aware of them because even today many people are afraid to talk about epilepsy for fear of offending others.

(Disclaimer: The information provided in the article, including treatment suggestions shared by doctors, is for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified professional regarding any medical condition. Health care provider for any questions you may have regarding.)

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