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Epilepsy

Epilepsy and genetics

03/10/2009

Question:

In 2003, I was diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and Catamenial Epilepsy. I suffered from non-febrile seizures as an infant, and my right side was paralyzed for 6 months. My question, however, is that my FATHER nor my MOTHER do not have epilepsy at all, but my UNCLE (Dad`s brother) also had Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. Sadly, he passed away in 2005. Is it remotely possible that I`ve been calling the wrong person Dad? Before I question the parents, I want to make sure I`m not or am barking up the wrong tree here. This has been bothering me for the last 6 months or so.

Answer:

We think there are certain epilepsy syndromes that have a genetic basis. Although this sounds simple, it has turned out to be very complex. There have been a few epilepsies that have now had a gene identified, but these usually are very rare causes of epilepsy.

Certain types of generalized epilepsies (absence epilepsy, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy) tend to run in families, although one gene defect has not been found. These types of epilepsies tend to have their onset in childhood or adolescence. The vast majority of adult onset epilepsies (especially partial) do not have a genetic basis.

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Response by:

David M Ficker, MD David M Ficker, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati