Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy

Margherita Santucci MD (Dr. Santucci of the University of Bologna has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.)
Federica Provini MD (Dr. Provini of the University of Bologna and IRCCS Institute of Neurological Sciences of Bologna received speakers fees from Sanofi and Bial.)
Antonio Culebras MD, editor. (Dr. Culebras of SUNY Upstate Medical University has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.)
Originally released November 29, 1995; last updated March 27, 2016; expires March 27, 2019

This article includes discussion of benign sleep myoclonus of infancy, deep sleep myoclonus, and quiet sleep myoclonus. The foregoing terms may include synonyms, similar disorders, variations in usage, and abbreviations.

Overview

In this article, the authors highlight the clinical characteristics of benign sleep myoclonus of infancy (BSMI), alternate name benign neonatal sleep myoclonus, a movement disorder that typically starts within the first 15 days of life, occurs during sleep, and consists of intermittent repetitive jerks of the limbs at 2 to 3 per second. It is often evoked by gently restraining the child. Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy is usually not associated with any other neurologic impairment and spontaneously subsides within the first year of life. Its importance lies in the differential diagnosis with the epileptic, especially myoclonic, seizures of infancy. Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy can be mistaken for neonatal seizures or even neonatal status epilepticus; the recognition of benign sleep myoclonus of infancy is imperative to avoid unnecessary diagnostic studies and treatments.

Key points

 

• Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy consists of myoclonic jerks that involve limbs, trunk, or the whole body, occurring in clusters during quiet NREM sleep and disappearing during wakefulness.

 

• Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy occurs in early life, typically from birth to 6 months of age.

 

• Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy is not associated with EEG abnormalities and occurs in otherwise neurologically normal children.

 

• Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy may be induced by repetitive sound stimuli and by gently restraining or by rocking the child, especially in a head-to-toe direction.

 

• Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy should be especially differentiated from the epileptic myoclonus that occurs during infancy, and requires no treatment.

Historical note and terminology

Benign sleep myoclonus of infancy was first reported in 1982 as benign neonatal sleep myoclonus (Coulter and Allen 1982).

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