Genetics plays a big role in many cases of epilepsy. Research has shown that the seizure threshold, especially, is often partly determined by genetics. According to studies, if a parent has idiopathic epilepsy, there is up to a 12 percent chance that their offspring will develop epilepsy as well.
Further, it has also been revealed that the offspring of women with epilepsy are more likely to have the condition than the children of men with the condition. Similarly, if a child has the condition, then their siblings do have a higher risk of having the disease, too. In the case of twins, if a twin has idiopathic epilepsy, then the other twin is very likely to possess it as well.
Brothers and sisters of children who have epilepsy are likely to develop it only because there is a genetic factor that predisposes them to develop the condition. Although most siblings may not develop the condition at all. So, the underlying factor, especially for generalized seizures, is genetics.
These studies only show that genetics is a major, but not the only cause of epilepsy. However, there is no doubt that some types of epilepsy are completely influenced by genetics. And some inherited metabolic conditions, such as chromosomal disorders, raise the likelihood of developing seizures.
How Types of Epilepsy Are Linked to Genetic Disorders
Genetic disorders may cause epilepsy alone or result in a syndrome with an array of effects on the organs and functions of a person’s body. However, the inheritance of epilepsy is usually not a straightforward case. To bring it into perspective, two children with mutations in different genes can develop the same type of epilepsy.
Again, two family members with similar gene mutation may acquire epilepsy, but the gene mutation may produce different epilepsy symptoms in each person. It is also not clear what specific genes cause certain types of epilepsy with a basis in genetics. Moreover, certain genetic conditions that result in epileptic syndromes are not inherited, but they arise spontaneously as a result of new mutations.
There are five types of genetic disorders that can result in epileptic syndromes. They include the single gene or Mendelian disorders, complex disorders, mitochondrial disorders, epigenetic disorders, and chromosomal disorders. Single gene disorders occur when a mutation causes one gene to be removed or changed. They can be passed along from one generation to the next.
Complex disorders occur as a result of mutations in specific genes coupled with environmental factors. Whereas mitochondrial disorders occur following mutations in DNA located outside the mitochondria’s cell nucleus. Chromosomal disorders occur when some or all chromosomes have altered or are missing. Lastly, epigenetic disorders are a result of a change of activity in genes rather than a structural DNA mutation.
Importance of Learning about Epilepsy
It is prudent for one to understand epilepsy and the chances that they may pass the condition on to their progeny. It is sometimes worrying that there are folks who desist from having children just because of the fear of passing the condition on to their children. It is, therefore, worth understanding that just because you or your partner has the condition does not mean your offspring will necessarily have it. In fact, even most medical experts agree that the chances of passing on the condition to your progeny are quite low. Therefore, epilepsy shouldn’t be a reason not to have children, especially when almost all epilepsy symptoms are treatable today.
Featured Image: Depositphotos/© drnn