Benign Rolandic Epilepsy
What is Benign Rolandic Epilepsy BRE?
It is a common childhood seizure syndrome with seizures that often start at age 6 to 10 years (range 3-13 years). This syndrome is called “benign” because most children outgrow the seizures by their teen years. It is named after the rolandic area of the brain, which controls movement of the face. The most common kind of seizures that occur is called partial motor or focal seizures.
The seizures are mild and often begin in the face. You may notice some of these symptoms.
- Face or cheek twitching.
- Tingling, numbness, in the tongue or face.
- Trouble speaking or slurred speech.
- Drooling from not being able to control the mouth muscles.
Children can stay awake and respond with these simple partial seizures.
In about half of children with BRE, seizures spread from the rolandic area in the brain to the rest of the brain. When this happens, the seizure is called a tonic-clonic seizure and you may see these symptoms:
- The muscles tighten all over the body.
- A rhythmic jerking of the whole body.
- Your child not responding to you.
- After the seizure ends your child may seem confused.
Although most seizures occur during nighttime sleep, some occur during the day. Most seizures happen just after falling asleep or just before waking up. The seizures do not happen often but can be caused by a lack of sleep.
What causes BRE?
The exact cause is not known. This syndrome tends to run in families. It is more common in boys than in girls.
How do I know if my child has BRE?
An EEG (brain wave test) is done while the child is awake and asleep. The doctor will be looking for certain patterns (spikes) on the EEG in the part of the brain called the “rolandic” area.
A brain MRI may also be done to look for any part of the brain that might be causing the focal seizures. With BRE, the MRI should be normal.
A neurological exam should also be done and will be normal in a child with BRE.
It is helpful if you can describe your child’s seizures.
What is the treatment?
Not all children need to take seizure medicines. Seizures may not happen often and may only occur at night.
Children take seizure medicine if:
- Seizures are frequent.
- Seizures occur during the day.
- Child has problems staying focused or thinking.
- Child has trouble learning.
Most of the time seizures are well controlled on a fairly low dose of medicine.
How long will my child have BRE?
Seizure medicines can be stopped when your child has been seizure-free for 2 years. Most of the time seizures are outgrown in the teen years. During the time that the syndrome is active, some children will have trouble learning. These problems tend to go away once the seizures stop and the EEG goes back to normal.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/28/2013
Copyright © 01/28/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6926
Print Health Fact For You