Autistic spectrum disorder, epilepsy, and vagus nerve stimulation

Mariam Mettry Hull, Deepak Madhavan, Charles M. Zaroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: In individuals with a comorbid autistic spectrum disorder and medically refractory epilepsy, vagus nerve stimulation may offer the potential of seizure control and a positive behavioral side effect profile. We aimed to examine the behavioral side effect profile using longitudinal and quantitative data and review the potential mechanisms behind behavioral changes. Methods: We present a case report of a 10-year-old boy with autistic spectrum disorder and epilepsy, who underwent vagus nerve stimulation subsequent to unsuccessful treatment with antiepileptic medication. Results: Following vagus nerve stimulation implantation, initial, if temporary, improvement was observed in seizure control. Modest improvements were also observed in behavior and development, improvements which were observed independent of seizure control. Conclusions: Vagus nerve stimulation in autistic spectrum disorder is associated with modest behavioral improvement, with unidentified etiology, although several candidates for this improvement are evident.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1377-1385
Number of pages9
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 27 2015


  • Autism
  • Epilepsy
  • Stereotypy
  • Vagus nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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