Neuropediatrics 2004; 35(4): 207-210
DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-821079
Original Article

Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Epilepsy is not a Prominent Feature of Primary Autism

P. Pavone1 , G. Incorpora1 , A. Fiumara1 , E. Parano1 , 2 , R. R. Trifiletti3 , 4 , M. Ruggieri1 , 2
  • 1Department of Paediatrics, University of Catania, Italy
  • 2Institute of Neurological Science, Italian National Research Council (CNR), Catania, Italy
  • 3Department of Neurology and Paediatrics, Saint Vincent Hospital, University of New York Medical College, New York, USA
  • 4Work done at the National Research Council and the University of Catania, Italy
Further Information

Publication History

Received: October 3, 2003

Accepted after Revision: March 26, 2004

Publication Date:
10 August 2004 (online)


The authors report on a series of 72 patients (57 male, 15 female; aged from 4 to 21 years) affected by autism with the aim of evaluate their experience regarding the prevalence of seizure and/or epilepsy. Patients were divided into two groups: the first includes individuals (n = 54) affected by so-called idiopathic or primary autism which was further subdivided according to the grade of mental retardation (MR) and the second (n = 18) in which a known pathological event was associated to the autism (secondary autism). According to these results in the first group 12 % of autistic patients with moderate MR (i.e., IQ > 55) suffered from seizures but in three patients (9 %) they were occasional and only in one recurrent (i.e., epileptic) (3 %). Autistic patients with severe MR (i.e., IQ < 55) suffered from seizures in 20 % of the cases: in three the episodes were recurrent (15 %) and in one occasional (5 %). In the second group in which autism was associated to other morbidities 61 % (n = 11/18) had seizures, being recurrent in 10 (55 %). According to this series, in autism the risk of epilepsy is higher compared to the general population but it does not seem to be correlated to the autism itself, but rather to the associated co-morbidities and underlying brain dysfunction (overall prevalence of epilepsy in primary autism [4/54 or 7.4 %] vs. secondary autism [10/18 or 55 %]).


M. D., PhD Martino Ruggieri

Institute of Neurological Science (ISN)
National Research Council (CNR)

Viale R. Margherita 6

95125 Catania