Benign Neonatal Convulsions (BNC) is a type of epilepsy syndrome that always occurs in young infants. Seizures, or in this case convulsions, will often start to happen between birth up to 28 days old. It’s a relatively uncommon syndrome that affects boys and girls equally.
There are two types of BNC, familial and non-familial. Familial means that someone in the family also experienced BNC as an infant, usually a parent. This is due to a genetic anomaly in chromosomes 8 and 20. Non-familial means that nobody in the infant’s immediate family has experienced BNC.
Infants with BNC will experience seizures, which can present in a number of ways, including:
The infant should be completely fine despite seizure activity. They should feed with no issues and behave like any other infant. Seizures will most commonly occur when the infant is tired or immediately after waking.
A doctor is likely to make a diagnosis based on a carefully studied history seizures the infant has experienced, along with a detailed family history. Seizures with other symptoms may be may indicate BNC, as other syndromes commonly have other symptoms that affect daily life. Common investigations that may be help to make a diagnosis include blood tests and brain scans, such as a computer tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An EEG might also show some limited results.
In many cases, treatment for BNC is not required as the seizures will begin to subside after a few weeks or months and then they completely stop. However, if medication is prescribed it is likely to be carbamazepine or sodium valproate. Other medications may be considered.
As previously mentioned, seizures will often cease completely within a few weeks or sometimes a few months. Infants can develop different types of epilepsy and seizures later in life. This is more common in familial BNC than it is in non-familial. However, in both cases it’s fairly uncommon and most children will recover fully
There are no other negative aspects to BNC and children should develop normally with no intellectual difficulties or behavioural issues.
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