Epilepsy and interictal epileptiform activity in patients with autism spectrum disorders

Epilepsy Behav. 2019 Mar:92:45-52. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2018.12.011. Epub 2019 Jan 3.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of epilepsy and subclinical epileptiform abnormalities in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and to investigate its effects on core autistic symptoms and adaptive behavior skills.

Methods: Patients with diagnosis of ASD who met full criteria on Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) were included in the study. Adaptive behavior skills were assessed by Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-II (VABS-II). Clinical assessment for epilepsy and video electroencephalography (EEG) (v-EEG) examinations during wakefulness and/or sleep were prospectively performed in all patients.

Results: A total of 112 patients with diagnosis of ASD of mean age 6.58 ± 3.72 were included in the study. Based on clinical and v-EEG assessments, three groups of patients were defined: 1) patients with epilepsy (n = 17; 15.2%); 2) patients with epileptiform discharges in absence of clinical seizures (n = 14; 12.5%); 3) patients without epilepsy and without epileptiform discharges (n = 81; 72.3%). There were no significant differences between three groups of patients on ADI-R subscores. Speech development was also not significantly related to epilepsy. There was a slight tendency of the VABS-II motor skills score to be higher in the group of patients with autism without clinical diagnosis of epilepsy and without subclinical epileptiform discharges (p < 0.05) in comparison with the two other groups. According to this tendency, we might claim that patients with higher scores on motor skills could have 0.88 times lower odds for having epileptiform EEG activity.

Conclusions: According to our results, we were not able to detect differences in the ADI-R between the three populations with ASD, all with unknown etiology. Epilepsy, as well as subclinical epileptic discharges, showed small effects on Motor Skills in patients with autism, and had no effect on adaptive behavior Communication/Socialization/Daily Living Skills.

Keywords: Adaptive behavior; Autism spectrum disorders; EEG; Epilepsy; Epileptic discharges.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / epidemiology
  • Seizures / physiopathology*
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Socialization
  • Wakefulness / physiology