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J Child Neurol. 2005 Jan;20(1):27-31.

Epilepsy, electroencephalographic abnormalities, and regression in children with autism.

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Division of Child Neuropsychiatry, General University Hospital of Siena, Siena, Italy.


The association of epilepsy and autism is recognized, and it has been reported at a percentage that varies between 8 and 42%, depending on age and diagnostic criteria. One third of autistic children undergo a regression of language and behavior between 2 and 3 years, and epileptiform abnormalities and epilepsy can be concomitant in an undetermined percentage of them. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of epilepsy and paroxysmal abnormalities in a group of children with autism and to determine the percentage of regression course in this group. Forty-six patients with autism (mean age 7.8 +/- 2.7 years; 34 boys and 12 girls) were consecutively examined, and clinical evaluation, assessment, and electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings were performed in all of them. Thirty-five percent showed paroxysmal abnormalities and epilepsy, 22% had only paroxysmal abnormalities without seizures, and 13% of the children suffered from epilepsy. Sixty-five percent had a normal EEG. No difference in regression rate was observed between patients with paroxysmal abnormalities and epilepsy and those with a normal EEG and without seizures. In the study group, the prevalence of epilepsy was in the low range of individuals with autism, and different types of epilepsy were observed. Autism with regression was not influenced by paroxysmal abnormalities and epilepsy.

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