An electroencephalographic-video study of 14 benign neonatal familial convulsions (BNFCs) in 3 children from two families is reported from the Hopitaux Universitaires, Strasbourg, and the Institut de Biologie, Montpellier, France. Seizures occurred during sleep and were preceded by a short period of arousal. A brief symmetrical flattening of the EEG, associated with apnea, tachycardia, and tonic motor activity, was followed by a long (1-2 minute) bilateral discharge of spikes and sharp waves, simultaneous with vocalizations, chewing, and focal or generalized clonic activity, often asymmetrical and asynchronous. EEG and clinical symptoms varied from left to right from one seizure to the next, and a stable focus was never observed. [1]

COMMENT. BNFCs are brief seizures beginning at the second or third day after birth and occurring for several days or weeks. Less than 10% have seizures in later childhood and adulthood. The gene for this syndrome has been localized to the long arm of chromosome 20, but BNFCs may be genetically heterogeneous. The pattern of the seizures is similar to that of generalized tonic-clonic epilepsy, in which the initial tonic phase may be asymmetrical. The asymmetry of BNFCs may be explained by immaturity of the corpus callosum in the neonate. The interictal EEG is either normal or shows bursts of sharp alternating theta rhythms, a theta pointu alternant pattern. Frequent BNFCs have no postictal deficit or exhaustion and no adverse effect on development of the child.