Benign Myoclonic Epilepsy in Infancy is a very rare epilepsy syndrome that affects boys much more commonly than girls. Children with this syndrome will often commence having seizures from the age of 4 month to 3 years. A third of children with this syndrome will have a family member who has epilepsy, although there is no known cause for it.
Children with Benign Myoclonic Epilepsy in Infancy will usually have myoclonic seizures, which are usually brief and involve head nodding. This will typically happen several times a day, but in many cases go unnoticed. The child may lose balance during these seizures but will rarely fall over. Sometimes children with this syndrome will roll their eyes. Tonic-clonic seizures are very rare for this syndrome.
A positive aspect of this syndrome is that most children will cease having seizures by around age 5 or 6, sometimes even earlier. Approximately 50% of children with this syndrome will experience no behaviour or development problems, although there is a risk of delayed learning and language problems.
Diagnosis can be made with the assistance of an electroencephalogram (EEG) test, which can show abnormal discharges of spikes and waves within the brain. This is the most effective tool available to diagnose this particular syndrome.
There’s an incredibly high success rate for treating the syndrome using anticonvulsant drugs (AEDs), such as sodium valproate or clonazepam. However, Levetiracetam may also prove to be effective. A paediatric neurologist will be able to help find the right AED based on the child’s individual needs.
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