For years, medical experts have worked to determine the connection many theorized exists between autism and epilepsy. And while many research teams have indeed produced evidence to justify these theories, this most recent study, published by Doctor Helene E.K Sundelin in Neurology, is bound to elicit the most worry.
The term refers to an ailment whose manifestation causes difficulty in communication as well as the forming of relationships, this along with altering one’s perception of the world.
This ailment is characterized by intense bursts of electrical activity that manifest in the brain, leading to seizures.
While these two ailments might initially appear unrelated, their connection has been thoroughly explored and documented over the years.
Doctor Helene set out to determine just how intimate this connection is. Her study purposed towards determining whether having a relative with epilepsy brought about an increase in the risk of an autism diagnosis.
To carry out their research, Doctor Helene’s team located 85,000 patients of epilepsy in the data registry along with their siblings and offspring.
Comparisons were made between each epileptic patient and five other individuals in the same country with similar attributes (age, sex etc). Additionally, comparisons were made between the siblings of epileptic and non-epileptic patients.
In the six years that followed, nearly 2,000 of the epileptic participants were diagnosed with autism. Of the non-epileptic participants, 700 were eventually diagnosed with autism.
The conclusion of this study was as such: epileptic individuals have an increased risk (1.6 percent) of being diagnosed with autism. Individuals diagnosed with epilepsy in their childhood have an especially heightened risk (5.2 percent) of receiving an autism diagnosis.
Among the siblings and offspring of the epileptic participants, a 63 percent increase in the risk of developing autism was detected. Individuals with mothers who had epilepsy showed the highest risk (91 percent), with this figure falling down to 38 percent for individuals who had epileptic fathers.
Doctor Helene’s work has gone a few steps further to highlight the relationship between epilepsy and autism. It should be noted that the reason these two ailments seem to share a connection is still largely unknown.
According to some professionals in the medical arena, epilepsy and autism might have a shared genetic basis. Other medical experts think the connection between these two ailments is a little more casual than that, such as the possibility of seizures damaging the brain in a manner that results in autistic features.
The common consensus is that discovering the link between epilepsy and autism will help medical experts develop more effective treatments for both ailments.