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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Epilepsy in Down Syndrome: A Highly Prevalent Comorbidity

June 2021 | Altuna, Gimenez, & Fortea - Journal of Clinical Medicine (2021)


Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have an increased risk for epilepsy during the whole lifespan, but especially after age 40 years. The increase in the number of individuals with DS living into late middle age due to improved health care is resulting in an increase in epilepsy prevalence in this population. However, these epileptic seizures are probably underdiagnosed and inadequately treated. This late onset epilepsy is linked to the development of symptomatic Alzheimer's disease (AD), which is the main comorbidity in adults with DS with a cumulative incidence of more than 90% of adults by the seventh decade. More than 50% of patients with DS and AD dementia will most likely develop epilepsy, which in this context has a specific clinical presentation in the form of generalized myoclonic epilepsy. This epilepsy, named late onset myoclonic epilepsy (LOMEDS) affects the quality of life, might be associated with worse cognitive and functional outcomes in patients with AD dementia and has an impact on mortality. This review aims to summarize the current knowledge about the clinical and electrophysiological characteristics, diagnosis and treatment of epileptic seizures in the DS population, with a special emphasis on LOMEDS. Raised awareness and a better understanding of epilepsy in DS from families, caregivers and clinicians could enable earlier diagnoses and better treatments for individuals with DS. 

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