Kids with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) have one or more of several different
kinds of seizures. These include absence seizures, myoclonic
seizures, and generalized tonic-clonic seizures, which begin around the age of puberty.
Seizures may lessen in adulthood, but medicine may be needed for life.
What Do the Seizures in Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME) Look Like?
The types of seizures that can happen in JME and their symptoms are:
starts suddenly in the middle of activity and ends abruptly
"blanking out" or staring spells that last about 5 to 20 seconds
eyes may flutter or look upward
child is unaware of what is going on during the seizure
after the seizure, child returns to normal activity and won't remember having
brief muscle twitches or jerks in the upper arms, shoulders, or neck
movements on both sides of the body at the same time
child usually is awake and can think clearly during and right after the seizure
convulsions, or rigid muscles and rhythmic body jerks
eyes rolling back
child may pee or poop
child can't respond during seizure
child is confused and sleepy after the seizure
Seizures in JME happen within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning or after a
nap. They're more likely to happen when someone is tired or stressed.
What Causes Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME)?
Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is caused by genetic changes or mutations. Many children
have a family member with JME, but not always.
How Is Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME) Diagnosed?
JME is diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist (a doctor who specializes in brain,
spine, and nervous system problems) based on signs and symptoms. That the seizures
started around puberty is an important clue.
Testing may include:
EEG, or electroencephalography (to
see brain waves/electrical activity in the brain)
VEEG, or video electroencephalography (EEG with video recording)
CAT scan and MRI
to look inside the brain. This will be normal and is meant to rule out other causes.
How Is Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME) Treated?
JME usually gets better with medicines. Your child may take one or more medicines,
depending on the seizure types.
A few kids will have trouble getting their seizures controlled with medicines.
How Can I Help My Child?
Most kids with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy can lead a fairly normal life. To help
your child, make sure he or she:
takes medicines as prescribed
avoids known seizure triggers, such as lack of sleep, flickering lights (video
games, TV, strobe lights), antihistamine medicines (such as Benedryl), and too much
It's important to keep your child safe during a seizure. So make sure that other
adults and caregivers (family members, babysitters, teachers, coaches, etc.) know
what to do.