Is Epilepsy Hereditary?
BIOS 260 Fundamentals of Pathophysiology
January 27, 2013
Abstract: Epilepsy is the second most common neurological problem in adults. 2 out of every 100 people will experience a seizure at some point in their life. Some seizures will onset as a child and disappear after adolescence. Some suffer seizures as a result of a brain injury, trauma, infection, or response to medication. Heredity increases an individuals’ risk to 5% if one of the child’s parents are epileptic. If both of those child’s parents are epileptic the risk of passing it on to the child is still less that 15 %. In brainwave tests those who are epileptic have six times more brain activity than those who did not. Explored throughout this paper will be heredity factor, different causes of epilepsy, types of epilepsy, treatment and prognosis.
Genetics play a minimal role when it comes to epilepsy in young children. Only 2% of the population is diagnosed with epilepsy at some time during the course of their life. If a child is born, and only one parent has epilepsy, that child’s chance increases to 5%. If a child is born to parents who are both epileptic, their chances of inheriting epilepsy are increased to less than 15%. Most symptoms usually begin between the ages of 5 and 20, but is not uncommon for symptoms to prevail later in life. For the pediatric age group studied, seizures presenting themselves after birth or during the course of their childhood that were seemed to be the most common types of inherited epilepsy were, childhood absence epilepsy, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, and photosensitive epilepsy. Some seizures can be a result of brain damage which can be caused by a number of things from difficulties at birth, a stroke, or an infection of the brain, like meningitis. An interesting statistic shows that six out of 10 people with epilepsy develop the condition with no genetic predisposition. Each type of epilepsy does carry different risk factors for being inherited. Some of the risk factors that seem to be associated with inheriting epilepsy vary from the age in which the epilepsy begins, if the mothers and fathers have been diagnosed with epilepsy, and the cause of epilepsy. Epilepsy can skip a generation since most types of epilepsy are caused by several genes and can also be influenced by the environment not every carrier of the gene will develop epilepsy.
There are close to 50 conditions that have been associated to causing seizures. They vary from cerebral vascular disease, cerebral atrophy, meningitis, diabetic acidosis, to acute alcoholism. Aside from genetics the other causes of seizures can be divided into acute causes and remote causes. An acute cause would depend on whether there is an active brain disease or whether there has been an injury that resulted in an abnormality. A seizure is a very common side effect of a brain or head injury. Lack of oxygen before delivery or at birth may also be the culprit. Low blood calcium levels, low blood magnesium levels, electrolyte disturbances, brain hemorrhaging or maternal drug use during pregnancy are also linked to seizures. (Guyton, 1979) Some children at a young age may develop infections that manifest into seizures such as meningitis, fever (febrile seizures), or brain malformations. In children and adults the main causes behind them developing seizures results from head trauma, infection, and other congenital disorders like Down syndrome or Angelman’s syndrome. For elderly individuals the primary cause of seizures come as a result of a stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or head trauma. If the cause of the seizure remains unknown it is referred to as idiopathic epilepsy.
Becoming familiar with the different types of epilepsy that there are and the symptoms associated with it is essential in making a proper diagnosis for treatment .There are several types of epilepsy, and with each type there is a different...
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