Friday, April 15, 2011
Higher mortality rate of autistics with epilepsy
One of the many tenets of neurodiversity is that autism is not comparable to diseases like cancer because autism does not kill. This has been proven wrong many times in the instances where autistic children died in accidental drownings (for example Ashley Brock) or James Deloroy who got lost and died in a snowstorm or children hit by cars, trains etc. due to their autism. From Autism speaks and the California DDS and a new journal article it would seem that there is evidence of a much higher mortality rate in persons with autism who have the comorbid diagnosis of epilepsy than in autism alone. These data found that the percentage of persons who had autism and epilepsy was higher than previously thought. So this is one reason that neurodiversity is yet again incorrect about autism not killing people and another reason we need to find a cure for autism. In an email I received from autism speaks this was elaborated on even further: It is well established that epilepsy is a major medical disorder that is often co-morbid with autism in as many as 30 percent of children. As many as one in 20 children diagnosed with autism by age 3 could either already have epilepsy or develop epilepsy later in life. As noted by the ATP more than a decade ago, sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) has been identified as a cause of death in individuals with autism. Higher mortality rates than in the general population have been reported among individuals with autism, however, there is relatively little known about the specific risk factors that account for the reported higher-than-expected rate of mortality in autism. “Sudden, unexpected or unexplained death in autism is often, but not always related to epilepsy and we need to use caution when interpreting these data,” explained Autism Speaks Vice President of Clinical Programs Clara Lajonchere, Ph.D. “These findings are important for understanding risk factors that may contribute to early death in individuals with autism and further underscore the need for more accurate and accessible records on cause of death in this population. Furthermore, state surveillance programs should implement better tracking mechanisms to help us better understand mortality for individuals with autism and co-occurring disorders such as epilepsy. Critical initiatives supported by Autism Speaks brain tissue program will help bring these issues to the fore and provide information our community needs to help prevent early death in persons with autism.” Though, this does not affect all persons with autism it is not an insignificant number, so once again neurodiversity can choke on this data while they are saying that nothing is wrong with having autism and that autism is not a life-threatening condition.