Newborns at birth make many faces, strange and involuntary movements in the face, arms or legs. They stretch and shrink continuously and that attracts parents a lot of attention, but when these movements occur during sleep, parents get scared and ask me about it. spasms, tastes or jerks of the baby to sleep. I reassure them and tell them what the calls are Sleep myoclonus in children and that they are very common.
Neonatal sleep myoclonus is defined as sudden and brief seizures and muscle contractions, sporadically and asymmetrically, that occur when the baby sleeps and that do not harm his health, since they are benign.
Actually can be described as small jolts that last no more than 15-20 seconds, and for which there is nothing to worry about, since it has no consequences for the baby; However, most parents worry when they see them for the first time, since they think that it may be a seizure so I explain them in consultation that they are treated to relieve their anguish.
As for its origin, it is believed to be genetic, since when taking the medical history, family antecedents are determined. What is certain is that they come from the central nervous system, but without any pathological component.
Neonatal sleep myoclonus can appear from the first weeks of the newborn's life and disappear by the third month and rarely reach 7 months of age. The incidence is approximately 3% of neonates and in terms of sex, it is more frequent in males. They disappear spontaneously, reaching the point of no longer observing them in the newborn, many times without realizing it.
These jerks or spasms, repetitively and mildly, can occur at the level of the head, arms, shoulders and lower limbs and rarely at the level of the abdomen. As I mentioned before, they can last more or less like 15 seconds, although they can reach about 45 seconds (almost never more than that time).
Finally, neonatal myoclonus has been observed when the baby is in the fifth stage of sleep, called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase, where there is more brain activity.
It is important that it is clear to the parents that this type of myoclonus does not have negative or pathological consequences on the neurological and psychomotor development of the neonate, which can be verified by neurological studies.
So that parents know better what it is, we are going to make a comparison with other pathologies with which it is often confused, being something totally different:
- Epilepsy, which are focalized or generalized paroxysmal contractions of the body that, in general, begin after 6 months of life (very rare before) and that the brain damage of the same can be verified by neurological studies such as EEG (Electroencephalogram) or resonance magnetic. In addition, patients remain drowsy after the seizure.
- He rhythmic sleep movement syndrome or periodic leg movements, that occurs during naps or during sleep and is also benign.
- The Infant myoclonus which are very similar, only that they start after 3 months of life and can last up to 2 years, approximately. They affect the upper part of the body and the movements appear with the child awake.
1. Record when they happen so they can show them to your pediatrician and this will help with the diagnosis.
2. If they are not yet diagnosed, they can wake you up to confirm that they are no longer happening and feel calmer.
3. If they are already diagnosed, let him sleep and watch him.
4. Be patient and hope they resolve spontaneously.
5. Provide a quiet environment to take naps during the day and sleep at night.
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