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Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy

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1Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy Empty Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy on Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:40 am


People with JME have myoclonic seizures (quick little jerks of the arms, shoulder, or occasionally the legs), usually in the early morning, soon after awakening. The myoclonic jerks sometimes are followed by a tonic-clonic seizure. Absence seizures also may occur.

Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) is one of the most common epilepsy syndromes. It accounts for 7% of all cases of epilepsy. The seizures of JME may begin between late childhood and early adulthood, usually around the time of puberty. Fifteen percent of children with childhood absence epilepsy later develop JME. It also is more likely in people who have family members with generalized epilepsy. The intellectual ability of people with JME is the same as that of people in general.

Some people with JME experience seizures that are triggered by flickering light, such as strobe lights at dances, TV, video games, or light shining through trees or reflecting off ocean waves or snow. These are called photosensitive seizures. Occasionally, myoclonic seizures are also provoked by factors such as decision-making or calculations.

The EEG usually shows a pattern of spikes and waves, which often appears in response to flashing lights. An EEG performed during sleep and continuing for a short time after awakening is the best way to confirm the diagnosis. CT and MRI scans of the brain are normal and are seldom necessary.

JME often has a genetic basis. In some families, genes associated with an increased risk of JME have been identified on chromosomes 6, 8, or 15. Nevertheless, the large majority of children in these families do not develop epilepsy.

The seizures of more than 80% of people with JME are well controlled with medication. Depakote (valproate) is usually used. It works for each of the three types of seizures that can be seen with JME.

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