Prevalence of non-febrile seizures in children with idiopathic autism spectrum disorder and their unaffected siblings: A retrospective cohort study

Lena M. McCue, Louise H. Flick, Kimberly A. Twyman, Hong Xian, Thomas E. Conturo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous disorder characterized not only by deficits in communication and social interactions but also a high rate of co-occurring disorders, including metabolic abnormalities, gastrointestinal and sleep disorders, and seizures. Seizures, when present, interfere with cognitive development and are associated with a higher mortality rate in the ASD population. Methods: To determine the relative prevalence of non-febrile seizures in children with idiopathic ASD from multiplex and simplex families compared with the unaffected siblings in a cohort of 610 children with idiopathic ASD and their 160 unaffected siblings, participating in the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange project, the secondary analysis was performed comparing the life-time prevalence of non-febrile seizures. Statistical models to account for non-independence of observations, inherent with the data from multiplex families, were used in assessing potential confounding effects of age, gender, and history of febrile seizures on odds of having non-febrile seizures. Results: The life-time prevalence of non-febrile seizures was 8.2% among children with ASD and 2.5% among their unaffected siblings. In a logistic regression analysis that adjusted for familial clustering, children with ASD had 5.27 (95%CI: 1.51-18.35) times higher odds of having non-febrile seizures compared to their unaffected siblings. In this comparison, age, presence of gastrointestinal dysfunction, and history of febrile seizures were significantly associated with the prevalence of non-febrile seizures. Conclusion: Children with idiopathic ASD are significantly more likely to have non-febrile seizures than their unaffected siblings, suggesting that non-febrile seizures may be ASD-specific. Further studies are needed to determine modifiable risk factors for non-febrile seizures in ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number245
JournalBMC Neurology
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 28 2016

Keywords

  • AGRE
  • Autism
  • Epilepsy
  • Familial
  • Genetic
  • Idiopathic
  • Prevalence
  • Seizures
  • Siblings

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