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Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (7292)

Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (7292) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Neuro, Rehab


Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy

What is juvenile myoclonic epilepsy?
Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is a form of
epilepsy that starts in childhood or the teens.
It is one of the most common epilepsy
syndromes. One of every 14 people with
epilepsy has juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.
People with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy
have muscle twitching or jerking. They may
also have other types of seizures. These
include convulsive seizures or absence
(staring) seizures.

What are the symptoms of juvenile
myoclonic epilepsy?
Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy usually starts
around puberty, in late childhood or
adolescence. Three different types of
seizures can occur in juvenile myoclonic
 Absence (staring) seizures are
usually the first seizure type to
happen in juvenile myoclonic
epilepsy. They begin as early as 5
years of age. With absence seizures,
the child does not respond to having
their name called or being touched
on the shoulder. The child stares
into space for short periods of time.
There is no twitching or convulsions
with absence seizures. These can go
unnoticed. They may be treated as if
they are daydreaming or not paying
attention. This type of seizure
happens in about 1/3 of children with
juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.
 Myoclonic seizures are sudden,
quick, small jerks of the arms,
shoulder, or the legs. The myoclonic
seizures happen most often in the
early morning just after waking up or
after a nap. There is no loss of
consciousness during myoclonic
seizures. These jerks are the most
obvious seizure type. They look
“shock-like” (sometimes only felt
inside and not seen). Sometimes,
they only happen in the fingers,
which makes the person to look
clumsy or prone to dropping things.
Often, myoclonic seizures (jerks) are
not recognized as seizures. They go
untreated until a convulsive seizure
 Generalized tonic clonic
(convulsive) seizures can happen a
few months after the myoclonic
seizures start.

What causes juvenile myoclonic epilepsy?
The cause of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is
not known. There are some factors that
increase the likelihood of having juvenile
myoclonic epilepsy.
 About 1 in 8 children with childhood
absence epilepsy will later develop
juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.
 People with a family member with
epilepsy are more likely to develop
juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.
 In some families, several genes are
known to cause a higher risk for
having juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

Are there any triggers for seizures?
Seizures are more likely to happen if the
 Has been deprived of sleep.
 Has been drinking alcohol.
 Forgets to take seizure medicine or
skips doses.
 Sees flickering lights, like sunlight
flickering between trees, or strobe
 Is under mental or emotional stress.

How is juvenile myoclonic epilepsy
Most people with juvenile myoclonic
epilepsy are well controlled with seizure
medicine. Your doctor will prescribe the
medicine for you. It is very important that
you get enough rest and sleep. Avoid
drinking alcohol. It is important that you
have healthy ways to deal with emotional

What is the prognosis for juvenile
myoclonic epilepsy?
Seizures are most often well controlled with
seizure medicine in most people with
juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. For some
people, medicines are needed lifelong. For a
small number of people with juvenile
myoclonic epilepsy, medicine could
possibly be lowered and stopped. This
occurs after the person goes several years
without any seizures. You should discuss
this with your doctor. If medicine is stopped
and myoclonic jerks return, medicine must
be restarted.

Where can I get more information?
Epilepsy Foundation
8301 Professional Place
Landover MD 20785

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright 9/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the
Department of Nursing. HF#7292