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Autistic Teens With Epilepsy Often Light-Sensitive

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Teenagers with autism who also have epilepsy often suffer from photosensitivity, or light sensitivity, researchers say.

The combination means that certain behaviors common among autistic kids -- such as flapping their hands in front of their faces -- could increase their risk for photosensitive seizures.

Although photosensitivity occurs in up to 14 percent of children with epilepsy, the rate jumps to 30 percent among teens suffering from both epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders, researchers from Children's Hospital Boston discovered.

"Our study found a high overall incidence of photosensitivity in 25 percent of children over 15 years of age with autism spectrum disorder, and an even higher rate of 29.4 percent in that age group of children who had both epilepsy and autism," study author Jill Miller-Horn said in a news release from the American Epilepsy Society. "This finding has not been previously reported."

More research is needed, she said.

"Larger-scale prospective studies are needed to confirm this trend," Miller-Horn said. "Further study is also needed to identify the importance of these findings in the pathophysiology of epilepsy in children with autism spectrum disorder."

The study is slated for presentation Monday at the American Epilepsy Society's annual meeting in Baltimore. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on epilepsy.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: American Epilepsy Society, news release, Dec. 5, 2011

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