Benign Myocolonic Jerks, EEGS, and Jelly Bean, Oh My! – Part II

Benign Myoclonic Jerks-Part II

If you haven’t read the first half of this post, click here for, “Myoclonic Jerks, EEGs, and Jelly Bean, Oh My! – Part I.

Before bringing Jelly  Bean in for another visit to the pediatrician, I recorded about a minute of the jerks from the video monitor on my phone. The pediatrician was happy to see this, and encouraged me to continue not only to record video, but to keep a log of her sleeping jerks at night.

“Benign Myoclonic Jerks often get worse before they get better,” she tried to reassure me. “I don’t think we’re dealing with seizures here, but since she’s so young, I’m going to order an EEG for her just to make sure.”

Now, for those of you who haven’t dealt with insurances and coordinating dates between hospitals and doctor’s offices…it’s a headache. I literally made dozens of phone calls to get the correct paperwork to the correct people. It took about a month before we could even get the consultation set up. When we finally did, however, I was encouraged.

The Consultation

The pediatric neurologist watched the video, and did a series of basic tests on Jelly Bean while explaining their purposes to the medical student who was observing him (which I enjoyed listening to). In short, her verbal and physical developmental milestones were all either met or advanced. (For example, he held up an object, and she reached for it with both hands, grasped it, and put it into her mouth, which, apparently, is exactly what she was supposed to be doing at five months.)

We discussed acid reflux more than I had expected to. Jelly Bean had been on Ritinidine for about a month, but we’d only been giving her half of the full dose of Ranitidine (Zantac). Now, apparently this medicine can take a while to kick in, which meant we might not be reaping the full benefit of the medication just yet either.

The doctor watched the video, and had two possible alternative reasons for the jerks.

(1) Reflux

When babies sleep on their backs, which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to reduce the risk of SIDS, the acid in their stomachs is more likely to move back up the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) and cause discomfort, according to the article, “Acid Reflux and Sleeping in Babies.”

The doctor asked (through a series of questions) if Jelly Bean sleeps better when she’s raised up at an angle. When I thought about it, it was true. She sleeps pretty well in the car seat, in the stroller, and when I’m nursing her, none of which have her lying flat on her back. He said that introducing food into her diet should help with the acid reflux, which might help with her sleeping. According to Healthline’s article, “Thickening the food helps to stop stomach contents from sloshing up into the esophagus.”

The Baby Sleep Site says that reflux can interfere with sleep because, “…babies with GERD are in fairly constant pain and discomfort. The stomach acid that comes up repeatedly after feedings can seriously irritate the lining of your baby’s throat, and cause a feeling of constant heartburn.”

(2) Extreme Startle Reflex (also known as the Moro reflex)

The neurologist also suggested a more extreme version of the startle or Moro reflex. In infants, the startle reflex is where the baby is surprised, and his entire body reacts. When the child has this reflex, Medline Plus says, “The infant will have a “startled” look and the arms will fling out sideways with the palms up and the thumbs flexed.”

The doctor says sometimes, this reflex is stronger in some individuals than others, and can last past infanthood. He said some children are simply very sensitive while moving from the sleep state to an awake state, and struggle to do it smoothly.

He told the story of a five-year-old girl that needed an examination after an accident. The parents warned him that waking her up for the examination wouldn’t be good, but he needed to look at her all the same. Sure enough, when he woke her up, she screamed and cried so hard he couldn’t examine her, and had to do it at at later time.

According to the neurologist, babies can sleep quite lightly, and it doesn’t take a very loud noise to startle them. Her thrashing about could be a version of this startle reflex, and could simply be her reaction when small sounds (like the creak of a door or a tap against a window) disturb her.

But Just to Be Safe

After examining Jelly Bean, the doctor didn’t think she was suffering from siezures. After watching the videos, however, he decided to go ahead and order the EEG just to be safe. The only way to know whether seizures are taking place or not is through an EEG, or an electroencephalogram.

Kids Health’s article, “EEG [electroencephalogram ],” defines an EEG as, “a test used to detect abnormalities related to electrical activity of the brain.” It does this by tracking and recording brain waves and patterns. The particular type of EEG we were going to have done for Jelly Bean would last 24-hours, overnight at the hospital. It would be a video EEG so they could record her physical activity along with the brain waves to look for abnormalities.

By God’s grace, a spot for one opened up in the hospital for the very next day. Stay tuned for Part III, our adventure in the hospital!

Do you have experience with Myoclonus? What about infantile seizures? I’d love for you to share your questions and comments in the Comment Box below. You never know if your information might help someone else down the road. Also, if you haven’t subscribed yet to my monthly newsletter, you can do so and receive free extra resources in your inbox. Also, (hint, hint), there may or may not be a free ebook on life with Tourettes being released sometime in the future and available for free download to my subscribers sometime in the future. Just a heads up! As always, thanks for reading!

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