Many autistic people have epilepsy. They take anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) to prevent seizures, but we do not yet know how effective these are. This research will create a database of autistic people taking an AED called Levetiracetam. It will look at their medical history to understand how this drug is working.
Approximately one in five autistic people have epilepsy and take AEDs, but little is known about the specific impact of such medications.
There is not much evidence to help doctors choose a drug for autistic people with epilepsy, who often have other physical and mental problems and may respond differently to these drugs. This study will help them make more informed decisions in future.
The research process
This is a difficult thing to study, so needs large amounts of data to make conclusions. The researchers will recruit 150 people with epilepsy who are taking the drug Levetiracetam or have done in the past. Half of this group (75) will be autistic. The researchers will look at medical records around the time that Levetiracetam was prescribed.
They will compare the impact of the drug on seizure frequency and severity. They will also collect data on the neurological, physical and mental health side effects.
How this is making a difference
If we understand how this drug works, we can start to look at others, or encourage drug companies to do the same. This information will help doctors choose the right drug for each patient, taking into consideration their form of epilepsy, other health issues and medication taken. If people get treatments that work, their seizures will reduce, their quality of life will improve, and they will live a long, healthy life.