Unprovoked Seizures in Autistic Individuals by Tapan Audhya, PhD

On December 23, 2009, 7:27 pm

Evidence of both clinical and subclinical seizures has been reported in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Approximately 20-30% of autistic children have a seizures disorder. Of course, this estimate does not include children who initiate seizures when proved by frustration, fear, sudden shock, high fever, anger, or exposed to high pressure oxygen chamber. In our experience, many ASD children with untreated PKU, cerebral palsy, neuroinflammation, or mental retardation have a higher risk of seizures; also, children who display sudden repetitive movements, swaying, language regression (particularly after 2-4 years of age), etc., often have experienced seizures. On the other hand, many seizure-free autistic individuals begin to have seizures during puberty. Many autism candidate genes that have been associated with autism risk encode for proteins that regulate excitation/inhibition within CNS. These include nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, GABA receptors, glutamate receptors, etc. An altered GABA-A receptor, found very often in autistic individuals, has been proposed as a major underlying cause of seizures. Because GABA inhibits neurons from firing, and seizures are caused by inappropriate or unregulated firing of nerve cells, increasing or decreasing GABA activity through its receptors can cause the system to stabilize or destabilize and thus control seizures. In the presentation we will discuss some of the information that we have developed in our laboratory regarding seizures in autistic individuals.

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