(NaturalHealth365) Epilepsy occurs in 2-3% of the general population; however this number jumps to 30% if the person has autism. Some researchers believe that epileptic symptoms could be under recognized in children with autism who have moderate to severe developmental delay.
The clinical diagnosis of epilepsy in autism is complicated by the fact that some of the symptoms can be mistaken for other childhood behaviors – failing to respond to one’s name, repetitive behaviors and tics – can be difficult to distinguish clinically from seizures.
What is the risk of autism and epilepsy – in adults?
Research conducted by the University of Bath found adults with epilepsy are more likely to have a greater number of characteristics of autism and Asperger’s syndrome. The researchers found that epileptic seizures impact neurological functions that affect social functioning in the brain – which causes the same characteristics depicted in autism.
The investigators discovered elevated traits of autism in every type of epilepsy, however they found it was even more evident for adults with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) and believe this higher rate is attributed to the fact that anti-epileptic medications are often times not as effective for TLE. Epilepsy groups are hoping for greater services for adults with epilepsy since the traits may not be recognized in childhood.
Are kids at a greater risk for autism and epilepsy?
Children with autism who are older than 13 and having the following ‘symptoms’ were at greater risk:
• Lower IQ (below 70)
• Poorer adaptive and language functioning (after adjusting for IQ)
• History of developmental regression
• More severe autism symptoms
The Bangkok Medical Journal also found that a child with autism and Cerebral Palsy were at an even greater risk of developing epilepsy. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that the incident of epilepsy was significantly lower in Asperger’s compared with more severe forms of autism.
A closer look at moms with epilepsy
According to the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, women who took the antiepileptic drug sodium valproate, while pregnant, are at significantly increased risk of having a child with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
The journal noted that neurodevelopmental problems were significantly more common among children whose mothers had epilepsy; 7.46% compared with 1.87% of those whose mothers did not have the condition. The mothers who had taken valproate alone or in combination with other drugs while pregnant were significantly more likely to have a child diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental condition than mothers who had taken other drugs to treat their epilepsy.
And, yes, boys were three times more likely to have a disorder than girls.
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that most patients who respond well to medications can stop taking antiepileptic drugs within 5-10 years. So if you are planning on having a child, it is important to discuss with your physician and perhaps plan to be off medications prior to conceiving. They also recommend that a woman be seizure free for at least nine months prior to becoming pregnant.
Natural ways to reduce the odds of having a seizure
In most cases the cause of epilepsy is unknown, but there are certain factors that doctors believe ‘trigger’ seizures and knowing how to support your body can help reduce the number of seizures you may have. Poor sleep, food allergies, alcohol, smoking and flashing or strobe lights are all potential triggers.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, biofeedback and deep breathing provide benefit to some people. Several small studies have reported wonderful benefits from yoga that includes weight bearing and balancing postures.
The University of Maryland Medical Center also states that fasting has been used to prevent seizures and a ketogenic diet can also be quite helpful. Before making any dietary changes, please discuss these options with your practitioner.
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About the author: Sima Ash of Healing 4 Soul is a clinical and classical homeopath and certified clinical nutritionist who utilizes a unique approach pioneered by Tinus Smits, M.D. called CEASE therapy. The aim of CEASE treatment is systematic detoxification of the causes of illness, leading to step by step improvement and restoration of health in the individual. For additional information, please visit – Healing4Soul.com. You can follow Sima on Facebook at ‘Cease Therapy California’ and through her weekly blog on NaturalHealth365.com
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