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Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus Treatment & Management

  • Author: Marc P DiFazio, MD; Chief Editor: Ted Rosenkrantz, MD  more...
Updated: Jan 02, 2015

Medical Care

Medical care of benign neonatal sleep myoclonus (BNSM) consists of making a timely diagnosis. Delayed recognition often results in extensive diagnostic testing, including screening for infectious causes of seizures (eg, spinal tap, blood cultures, empiric antibiotics) and neurodiagnostics (eg, electroencephalography, brain imaging, brain monitoring). This process almost invariably results in admission to the hospital and a great deal of family distress.

Early recognition can be facilitated by the use of home-video monitoring by parents, especially if the episodes are frequent. If the child is otherwise clinically well, ask the parents to obtain video footage while their child undergoes medical evaluation. Once a provider is experienced in the clinical manifestations, this can be invaluable in the diagnosis of benign neonatal sleep myoclonus. At that point, parents are reassured regarding the benign nature of the condition and educated regarding the prognosis. If clinical concern for possible seizure remains but the child is otherwise clinically stable (eg, without concerning pregnancy-related risk factors or abnormal findings on examination), admission to the hospital for a short stay to facilitate monitoring and observation by trained professionals is prudent.



If clinical confusion remains, a pediatric neurologist should be consulted to observe video footage and to perform an extended neurologic examination. Further diagnostic testing could be ordered based on their assessment and based on concern regarding possible seizures or other more ominous causes of myoclonus in children. This would be especially pertinent in patients with late-onset manifestations or with other concerning neurologic findings.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Marc P DiFazio, MD Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Director, Pediatric Subspecialty Services, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital for Children

Marc P DiFazio, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, American Academy of Neurology, Child Neurology Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Dalila W Lewis, MD Pediatric Neurology Fellow, Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Dalila W Lewis, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Ayne Kimberly Iafolla, MD Corporate Medical Director, Pediatrix of Maryland; Medical Director of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Active Staff, Departments of Neonatology and Genetics, Southern Maryland Hospital; Active Staff, Department of Neonatology, Washington County Hospital, Western Maryland Health System, and Shady Grove Adventist Hospital; Associate Staff, Departments of Neonatology and Genetics, Washington Adventist Hospital

Ayne Kimberly Iafolla, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Medical Association, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, American Society of Human Genetics, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Ted Rosenkrantz, MD Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology, Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Ted Rosenkrantz, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Society, Eastern Society for Pediatric Research, American Medical Association, Connecticut State Medical Society, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Scott S MacGilvray, MD Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University

Scott S MacGilvray, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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