Investigating the complications associated with Rolandic epilepsy

Grant awarded in 2011

Rolandic epilepsy (RE) is one of the most common paediatric epilepsy syndromes, affecting approximately 10,000 children in the UK, usually between the ages of 3 and 13. Those affected usually suffer either simple partial seizures, often involving the mouth and face, or generalized tonic-clonic seizures. RE is often referred to as benign, as most children ‘outgrow’ it during adolescence; however this term is misleading because it can lead to an underestimation (by both parents and clinicians) of the developmental problems caused by the condition.

Research to date has revealed a lot of information about the potential language complications that can result from RE. However more investigation is needed to find out about other possible consequences, for example difficulties with social interaction and motor co-ordination. Furthermore, it is known that attention is impaired in RE, but it is still unclear whether this applies to seeing, listening, or both. Another unanswered question is what happens to the brains of children with RE who grow out of their seizures? Are their siblings at risk of language or other complications, even if they don’t have epilepsy?

Professor Deb Pal and colleagues at King’s College London, have been awarded £99,903, over 36 months, to carry out a project entitled Functional correlates and genetic risk for neuropsychiatric traits associated with Rolandic epilepsy. This will be funded using a restricted grant from The Waterloo Foundation.

In this study the researchers will recruit 30 children with RE, 30 siblings of children with RE and 30 controls. Using EEG, structural and functional imaging and a range of cognitive and language tests, the group will explore four aspects of RE:

The neurodevelopmental and psychiatric profiles of children with RE, after seizure remission

  • What happens in the brain at seizure remission
  • The aspects of attention impaired in RE
  • The neurodevelopmental/psychiatric profile and EEG of siblings

Professor Pal and his team are hopeful that this project will highlight potential new assessments and interventions for RE, which will be evaluated in future studies.

This grant was made using funds generously donated by The Waterloo Foundation.

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