Posted on July 04th, 2022
Children with Kanner's syndrome, also known as classic autistic disorder, are more likely to experience seizures than those who do not have such a neurodevelopmental disorder. Between 5% and 38% of children on the autism spectrum develop epilepsy. However, their seizures are not always the result of epilepsy - they can be non-epileptic.
As a neurological disorder, epilepsy affects roughly 470,000 children in the United States, many of whom struggle with Kanner's syndrome. The disorder causes seizures, which are bursts of electrical activity in the brain that affect how it works temporarily. While epilepsy usually starts in childhood, 20% to 30% of children on the autism spectrum develop the disorder by adulthood.
A major contributing factor to Kanner's syndrome is heavy metals, some of the most dangerous being arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. However, the presence of heavy metals such as nickel and aluminum in the body can also trigger autism in children. While combustion processes like power generation, smelting, and incineration are some of the most important sources of heavy metals, baby food is another major source of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. At least seven popular baby food manufacturers were found guilty of allowing unsettling concentrations of heavy metals in their products by a 2021 congressional report.
The greater the amount of heavy metals in the blood of a child, the higher their chance of developing Kanner's syndrome is. These are the reference values for the most dangerous heavy metals in the blood:
Even without a diagnosis of Kanner's syndrome, children who have a great level of heavy metals in their blood may experience seizures as a consequence of overexposure to these naturally occurring but hazardous elements. In some cases, seizures are one of the early signs of Kanner's syndrome, along with hypersensitivity to stimuli, failing to make good eye contact, displaying unusual body movements, and showing low enthusiasm to explore new things.
Seizures are quite common among children within the autism spectrum, and they are often the result of epilepsy. Nevertheless, a child with Kanner's syndrome can experience frequent seizures without having epilepsy. In this case, they are called non-epileptic seizures. Seizures are a significant concern in children suffering from autism spectrum disorders because of their high prevalence and link to increased mortality. To make matters more difficult, numerous symptoms of seizures resemble the symptoms of Kanner's syndrome, which makes it difficult to differentiate between the two.
The most common signs of seizures in children with Kanner's syndrome include loss of focus, staring, disrupted sleep, confusion, disorientation, involuntary body movements, and unusual sensations. Still, it is extremely important to keep in mind that the symptoms of seizures vary widely, and some occur with no visible signs.
Lastly, it is essential to know that there are two types of seizures children with Kanner's syndrome may experience, namely:
It is worthy of note that specific categories of children within the autism spectrum have a higher risk of developing seizures and epilepsy. They include those with intellectual disabilities, genetic abnormalities, and brain malformations.
Lead and mercury are the heavy metals that are most likely to cause seizures, whether the child is on the autism spectrum or not, as they are very harmful and powerful. Because heavy metals are neurotoxic, meaning that they can wreak havoc on the brain and nervous system, it should not be surprising that overexposure can result in epilepsy or non-epileptic seizures in children. By altering the balance of inhibition and excitation in the nervous system, heavy metals can lead to epilepsy or frequent seizures in children with Kanner's syndrome.
It is noteworthy that seizures caused by exposure to heavy metals do not cause Kanner's syndrome per se. The contributing factor to the disorder is the very presence of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, aluminum, or nickel in the blood of the child. If a child experiences seizures during infanthood, they can be the result of overexposure to heavy metals alone or Kanner's syndrome, whose development was fueled by the heavy metals in their body. Approximately one-third of children on the autism spectrum have epilepsy.