John Libbey Eurotext

Reflex seizures in Rett syndrome Volume 13, issue 4, December 2011


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Department of Child Neurology, Department of Child Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology Unit, Department of Molecular Biology, Fundación Hospital Sant Joan de Déu of Barcelona and CIBERER, Sant Joan de Déu Children's Hospital of Barcelona, Spain

Reflex seizures are a rare phenomenon among epileptic patients, in which an epileptic discharge is triggered by various kinds of stimuli (visual, auditory, tactile or gustatory). Epilepsy is common in Rett syndrome patients (up to 70%), but to the authors’ knowledge, no pressure or eating-triggered seizures have yet been reported in Rett children. We describe three epileptic Rett patients with reflex seizures, triggered by food intake or proprioception. One patient with congenital Rett Sd. developed infantile epileptic spasms at around seven months and two patients with classic Rett Sd. presented with generalised tonic-clonic seizures at around five years. Reflex seizures appeared when the patients were teenagers. The congenital-Rett patient presented eating-triggered seizures at the beginning of almost every meal, demonstrated by EEG recording. Both classic Rett patients showed self-provoked pressure -triggered attacks, influenced by stress or excitement. Non-triggered seizures were controlled with carbamazepine or valproate, but reflex seizures did not respond to antiepileptic drugs. Risperidone partially improved self-provoked seizures. When reflex seizures are suspected, reproducing the trigger during EEG recording is fundamental; however, self-provoked seizures depend largely on the patient's will. Optimal therapy (though not always possible) consists of avoiding the trigger. Stress modifiers such as risperidone may help control self-provoked seizures.