Girls with autism are nearly three times as likely as boys with the disorder to have severe epilepsy that responds poorly to medication1.
The findings, published 26 June in Autism Research, add a twist to one of the biggest conundrums in autism: its 4-to-1 ratio of boys to girls. Research suggests that girls are somehow protected from autism-linked mutations. The new study hints that these mutations also lead to treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Roughly 25 percent of people with autism have epilepsy, compared with about 1 percent of the general population. In the new study, researchers found that women who have both autism and epilepsy tend to have milder autism symptoms, but more severe seizures, than do men with the disorder. The finding suggests that whatever protects women from autism does not shield them from epilepsy.
“It’s really intriguing,” says lead researcher Karen Blackmon, assistant professor of neurology at New York University.
Previous studies have shown that epilepsy affects more girls than boys with autism. The new findings serve as a warning to doctors that epilepsy in these girls may also be especially difficult to treat.
Doctors “should be prepared to try multiple medications and realize the medications might fail at the first try,” says Shafali Jeste, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.
Credits : sfari.org