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What Is Sleep Myoclonus?

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Updated March 04, 2013

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Question: What Is Sleep Myoclonus?
Answer:

If you have ever seen your infant jerk suddenly during sleep, you may want to learn about sleep myoclonus.

Sleep myoclonus is a condition in which your infant has a sudden jerking movement during sleep. It may even appear like a sudden twitching in your baby. It usually affects both sides equally and causes a flexion of the fingers, wrists, elbows, and occasionally feet. It may occur repeatedly.

Sleep myoclonus happens during the early stages of sleep and it may be provoked by stimulus.

This condition may cause concern as it may seem like a seizure or infantile spasms. The important difference is that sleep myoclonus only occurs in sleep.

It often develops during the first week of life and it resolves by itself within one year. There are no adverse consequences, so it is commonly called benign neonatal sleep myoclonus.

Infants who experience this will have a normal neurologic examination and EEG.

If these movements occur during wakefulness, further evaluation by your child's doctor may be necessary.

Source:

Coulter, DL et al. "Benign neonatal sleep myoclonus." Arch Neurol 1982; 39:191.

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