, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 407-414

Autism and Tuberous Sclerosis

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Abstract

Autism and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) are common in tuberous sclerosis (TSC). The frequency of autism is about 25%, with 40–45% of TSC cases meeting criteria for autism or PDD. Among autistic populations, the frequency of TSC is 1–4% and perhaps as high as 8–14% among the subgroup of autistic individuals with a seizure disorder. Mental retardation (MR) and seizures, particularly infantile spasms, are significant risk factors in the development of autism/PDD in TSC; however, neither are sufficient or necessary for the development of these behaviors. The mechanism underlying the association of autism and TSC is as yet unclear but clinical features and neuroimaging investigations suggest that an abnormal TSC gene may directly influence the development of autism rather than it being a secondary effect of seizures or MR. The presence of autism/PDD may arise if the TSC gene mutations occur at critical stages of neural development in neural tissue of brain regions critical in the development of autism.