Coeliac disease and epilepsy

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Abstract

Summary

Whether there is an association between coeliac disease and epilepsy is uncertain.Recently, a syndrome of coeliac disease, occipital lobe epilepsy and cerebral calcification has been described, mostly in Italy. We measured the prevalence of coeliac disease in patients attending a seizure clinic, and investigated whether cerebral calcification occurred in patients with both coeliac disease and epilepsy. Screening for coeliac disease was by IgA endomysial antibody, measured by indirect immunofluorescence using sections of human umbilical cord. Of 177 patients screened, four patients were positive. All had small-bowel histology typical of coeliac disease. The overall frequency of coeliac disease in this mixed patient sample was 1 in 44. In a control group of 488 pregnant patients, two serum samples were positive (1 in 244). Sixteen patients with both coeliac disease and epilepsy, who had previously attended this hospital, were identified. No patient had cerebral calcification on CT scanning. Coeliac disease appears to occur with increased frequency in patients with epilepsy, and a high index of suspicion should be maintained. Cerebral calcification is not a feature of our patients with epilepsy and coeliac disease, and may be an ethnically-or geographically-restricted finding.

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