Epilepsy in autism

Lancet Neurol. 2002 Oct;1(6):352-8. doi: 10.1016/s1474-4422(02)00160-6.


There is an increased but variable risk of epilepsy in autism. Three main factors--age, cognitive level, and type of language disorder--account for variability in the reported prevalence of epilepsy. The prevalence is highest in studies that have included adolescents and young adults, individuals with moderate to severe mental retardation and those with motor deficits, and individuals with severe receptive language deficits. The association of autism with clinical or subclinical epilepsy might denote common genetic factors in some cases. Whether subclinical epilepsy has adverse effects on cognition, language, and behaviour is debated, as is the relation of autistic regression with an epileptiform electroencephalogram to Landau-Kleffner syndrome. There is no evidence-based treatment recommendation for individuals with autism, regression, and subclinical epilepsy. Double-blind studies with sufficient power to resolve this issue are urgently needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Autistic Disorder / complications*
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy / therapy
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Seizures / physiopathology


  • Anticonvulsants