Benign paroxysmal migraine variants of infancy and childhood: Transitions and clinical features

Published:March 29, 2018DOI:


      • Infants with paroxysmal torticollis may develop paroxysmal vertigo as children, which we refer to asthe “vestibularmarch”.
      • BPTI and BPVC are often associated with balance impairment and motor delay.
      • A high proportion of children with BPTI have peripheral vestibular impairment.
      • BPTI is often exacerbated by otitis media.



      Migraine variant disorders of childhood include benign paroxysmal torticollis of infancy (BPTI) and benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood (BPVC). This study aimed to review our experience with BPTI and BPVC and determine the incidence of children transitioning between each of these disorders and to vestibular migraine (VM).


      We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients seen at the Balance and Vestibular Program at Boston Children's Hospital between January 2012 and December 2016 who were diagnosed with BPTI, BPVC, and/or VM.


      Fourteen patients were diagnosed with BPTI, 39 with BPVC, and 100 with VM. Abnormal rotary chair testing was associated with progression from BPTI to BPVC (n = 8, p = 0.045). Eight (57.1%) patients with BPTI and 11 (28.2%) with BPVC had motor delay. Eleven (78.6%) patients with BPTI and 21 (53.8%) with BPVC had balance impairment. Six BPTI patients developed BPVC (42.9%), six BPVC patients developed VM (15.4%), and two patients progressed through all three disorders (2%). One BPTI patient progressed directly to VM.


      Most patients with BPTI will experience complete resolution in early childhood, but some will progress to BPVC, and similarly many patients with BPVC will progress to VM. Parents of children with these disorders should be made aware of this phenomenon, which we refer to as “the vestibular march.” Children with BPTI and BPVC should also be screened for hearing loss, otitis media, and motor delay.


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