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Seizure. 2010 Nov;19(9):547-52. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2010.07.015. Epub 2010 Aug 21.

Paroxysmal activity and seizures associated with sleep breathing disorder in children: a possible overlap between diurnal and nocturnal symptoms.

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Department of Pediatrics, Sleep Disease Centre, University of Rome La Sapienza-S Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy.



Sleep breathing disorders (SBD) can trigger paroxysmal events. We recently found a higher percentage of paroxysmal activity (PA) in a sample of Italian children with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) and no history of epilepsy. The signs of nocturnal seizures can overlap with sleep respiratory events. The aim of this study was to confirm the high frequency of PA or interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) during sleep in a cohort of Spanish children who underwent polysomonography (PSG) for suspected SBD and to ascertain the eventual presence of seizures by means of a video-PSG with an extended electroencephalogram (EEG).


PSG was performed in a population of children with no previous history of epileptic seizures recruited prospectively for suspected OSAS from January to December 2007. Recordings included at least 13 EEG channels.


In total, 25 children (mean age, 6.6 ± 3.8 years, 14 males) were diagnosed with SBD, and 4/25 (16%) children met the criteria for OSAS and epilepsy, with IEDs and/or seizures during sleep. We diagnosed benign epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes in 2 cases, partial symptomatic epilepsy in one, and nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy in another, while we found PA in 2 patients. The body mass index and the apnea-hypopnea index were significantly higher in children without IEDs/PA.


Our study demonstrated a close relationship between pediatric SBD, PA during sleep, and epilepsy that may aggravate the prognosis of SBD. Due to the possibility of an overlap of symptoms, a video-PSG with extended EEG montage is necessary.

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