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Sexual Assault Tied to Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures in Women

Sexual assault trauma accounts for 22 percent of the increased risk for PNES in women

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MONDAY, Dec. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Sexual assault trauma may partly explain why women are more likely to develop psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, held virtually from Dec. 4 to 8.

Slavina Goleva, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues reviewed electronic medical records to determine which of 1,653 medical diagnoses co-occurred with PNES diagnosis.

The researchers identified 3,341 adult PNES patients (prevalence, 0.14 percent). The analysis confirmed previously reported associations with psychiatric disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder, but yielded novel associations with cerebrovascular disease (odds ratio, 1.08; P = 2.57 x 10-40). There was also a very strong association between PNES and sexual assault trauma (odds ratio, 10.26; P = 5.36 x 10-146). Sexual assault trauma explained nearly a quarter of the association between female sex and PNES.

"These results identify stroke as a possible predictor for PNES and reinforce that people who are experiencing seizures and have psychiatric risk factors should be referred for video-electroencephalogram monitoring to diagnose whether they are experiencing epileptic seizures or nonepileptic seizures," a coauthor said in a statement. "Early diagnosis for patients with PNES is critical, allowing them to begin an appropriate treatment plan while avoiding misdiagnosis with epilepsy and the dangers of inappropriate treatments."

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