Epilepsy in adolescents and young adults with autistic disorder

Paola Giovanardi Rossi, Annio Posar, Antonia Parmeggiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the first description by Kanner (1943) the association between autistic disorder (AD) and epilepsy has been observed in 4-42% of patients. Some authors reported that seizures prevailed in adolescence but a systematic investigation has never been undertaken. We examined retrospectively 60 patients divided into two groups (with and without epilepsy and EEG paroxysmal abnormalities) with AD unrelated to a congenital or acquired encephalopathy (mean age 17 years 2 months). The aim was to investigate epilepsy, EEG paroxysmal abnormalities and possible etiological factors. The prevalence of epilepsy was 38.3%, much higher than that in a normal population of a similar age (6.6‰). The prevalence of EEG paroxysmal abnormalities without epilepsy was 6.7%, higher than that in a population of adolescents and adults with psychiatric pathologies (2.6%). Seizure onset was after age 12 years in 66.7% of cases. The most common type of epilepsy was partial in 65.2% and four patients (17.4%) had a benign childhood epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes. At the last observation 44.4% of patients had been seizure-free for 2 years or more. There were no organic factors influencing the development of epilepsy but familial and personal antecedents, mental retardation and CT scan/MRI data may suggest an early brain dysfunction responsible for AD and epilepsy. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-106
Number of pages5
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 14 2000


  • Adolescence
  • Autistic disorder
  • EEG paroxysmal abnormalities
  • Epilepsy
  • Mental retardation
  • Pervasive developmental disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology


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