Food and Behaviour Research

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Down syndrome and epilepsy: a nutritional connection?

Thiel RJ, Fowkes SW. (2004) Med Hypotheses 62(1) 35-44. 

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Non-Asian individuals with Down syndrome are much more likely to develop epileptic seizure disorders than individuals without Down syndrome. Examination of nutrient and metabolite levels in patients with these two seemingly disparate disorders reveals numerous similarities.

Compared to individuals without these disorders, individuals with Down syndrome and individuals with seizures may have lower levels of vitamin A, vitamin B1, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, carnitine, carnosine, choline, and possibly serine. Excesses of copper, cysteine, phenylalanine, and superoxide dismutase are also sometimes encountered in both disorders.

In addition to common nutritional lower levels and excesses, disorders of metabolism involving vitamin B6, vitamin D, calcium, and tryptophan may play a common role.

This paper hypothesizes that nutritional factors may account for the high joint occurrence of these conditions. Further examination of these data may provide insights into nutritional, metabolic and pharmacological treatments for both conditions.