Seizures either occur alone or affect people who are already suffering from certain medical conditions. They are defined as a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain which leads to muscle twitching of certain parts of the body or the entire body. One of many conditions which may be accompanied by seizures is Down syndrome.
This is a genetic disorder which develops due to the presence of an extra chromosome 21. People suffering from Down syndrome are prone to many health problems and epilepsy is only on of them. However, if a person suffers from Down syndrome, it does not necessarily means he/she will develop seizures. The presence of the syndrome only increases the chances of developing seizures.
Down Syndrome and Seizures
It is estimated that around 5-10% of people with Down syndrome will eventually develop seizures. The risk is higher in individuals who have physiological and structural abnormalities of the brain (brain dysgenesis). Furthermore, there is some connection between the onset of seizures in these people and their age. Namely, they are most likely to develop seizures in their first year of life and the risk again becomes high when they reach the fourth or fifth decade of their lives.
Types of Seizures Associated with Down Syndrome
These people are affected by all types of seizures. Still, the most commonly reported ones are tonic-clonic seizures. Reflex seizures are frequently reported as well. On the other hand, febrile seizures usually do not affect people with this genetic disorder.
The Connection between Seizures and Down Syndrome
There are many explanations why seizures affect people with Down syndrome. For instance, some seizures develop due to a cardiovascular disease. However, most seizures are actually not connected with any other condition the person is suffering from.
The abnormal electrical activity of the brain in such patients develops as a consequence of decreased inhibition of the electrical pathways, increased excitation of brain cells, structural abnormalities of the brain and changes in the amount of certain neurotransmitters. There are certainly several more explanations why seizures in these patients occur. They are yet to be explained.Seizures in Down Syndrome Clinical Characteristics
Seizures affecting these people are actually not different from seizures in other people. Depending on the type, some affect only one part of the body while generalized seizures lead to jerky movements of the entire body. Loss of consciousness, incontinence and fatigue may be several more characteristics of seizures in people suffering from Down syndrome. Fortunately, with appropriate therapy, they are successfully brought under control.