Do Children with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy Have a Higher Prevalence of Migraine than Those with Other Partial Epilepsies or Nonepilepsy Controls?


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. E. Wirrell at Division of Pediatric Neurology, Alberta Children's Hospital, 2888 Shaganappi Trail NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T3B 6A8. E-mail:


Summary: Purpose: Prior studies have given conflicting data concerning the association of benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood (BREC) and migraine but were limited by lack of sensitive, diagnostic criteria for childhood migraine. By using revised International Headache Society (IHS-R) criteria, we compared the prevalence of migraine in children with BREC with that of those (a) with cryptogenic/symptomatic partial epilepsy and (b) without epilepsy.

Methods: Three cohorts of children, gender and age matched (within 1 year) were identified: (a) BREC, (b) cryptogenic/symptomatic partial epilepsy, and (c) no history of seizures. Parents were queried in a standardized interview about migraine and migraine equivalents in their child, and in either biologic parent. Migraine was defined by using the IHS-R (for children) and IHS criteria (for parents). Children with headache were divided into definite (meeting IHS-R criteria), probable (recurrent, throbbing headaches with nausea, vomiting, photophobia or phonophobia, not meeting IHS-R criteria), possible (recurrent headaches with throbbing character or associated nausea/vomiting), or nonmigraine groups. χ2 analysis was used to determine whether the cohort with BREC had a higher prevalence of definite, definite or probable, or definite, probable, or possible migraines or migraine equivalents than the other two cohorts.

Results: Each cohort consisted of 53 children (mean age, 9.8–9.9 years, M/F ratio, 35:18). Those with BREC had higher rates of definite and probable (p = 0.05), of definite, probable, and possible migraine (p = 0.05), and of migraine equivalents excluding motion sickness (p < 0.005) than did those without seizures; however, they did not differ significantly from the cryptogenic/symptomatic partial epilepsy cohort.

Conclusions: Partial epilepsy, regardless of etiology, is associated with higher rates of migraine in children. The pathophysiologic link between epilepsy and migraine is unknown.