A recent pilot study, conducted by Sana’a University and Thamar University, looked into the roles family history of epilepsy and consanguinity play in patients suffering from epilepsy. Those who suffer from this condition know how serious and life-changing, as well as life-threatening, it can be. There are more than 50 million people all around the world who suffer from epilepsy today.
While there still needs to be a substantial amount of research done on the subject, there are several risk factors that have been identified. The risk factors include head trauma, birth trauma, neonatal jaundice, childhood diseases, being at a low socioeconomic level and born prematurely. In addition, having a family history of epilepsy and consanguinity, which is being a blood relation of someone with epilepsy, are risk factors as well.
Consanguinity can be a massive potential problem in some areas of the world. When a coupling is consanguineous, meaning those individuals are related by blood, there is a high risk of birth defects and problems, including epilepsy. In Yemen, consanguineous marriage is relatively common with about 40% of marriages being between those who are related. Out of those, 85% of the marriages are between first cousins. The children who are produced from these marriages will often develop hereditary neurological diseases like epilepsy.
This study on family history and consanguinity from these teams at the universities in Yemen is the first of its kind.
How Was the Study Done?
The epileptic patients in the study attended Thamar and Sana’a University hospital between January 2014 and December 2015. The patients all underwent an assessment by the neurologist, with all of the needed examinations performed like an MRI and other scans. In addition, the patients’ histories were documented.
Also, the patients filled out a questionnaire sheet. The questionnaire provided a range of additional information, such as their demographics, the age they suffered their first seizure, the age they received their diagnosis, and any other risk factors that they might have had, which could have led to the condition.
The patient and/or their companion were asked whether there was any family history of epilepsy and whether consanguinity was a factor in the case. These were the main factors being researched in the study.
The total number of cases that were used in the study numbered 300. It was made up of 169 males and 131 females. 240 cases were generalized epilepsy and the other 60 cases were other types of epilepsy. The majority of the patients, 87.7%, were under 26 years old. Parental consanguinity was found in 147 of the patients.
What Were the Results?
The results of this study showed that males were showing a greater frequency of epilepsy than females. A range of factors related to this were social stigmas with epilepsy and females in Yemen as well as some might not be reporting their condition. A part of this is due to the lack of information about the condition. 40% of the patients had family histories of epilepsy and 49% of the people were in consanguineous relationships.
The findings from the study supported the findings from other studies in Turkey, India and Saudi Arabia. Also, these findings line up with other research that has looked into the genetic causes of the condition. The researchers believe that genetic factors could be a main cause of epilepsy and believe that there need to be additional studies in the field.