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What is Myasthenia Gravis? And how you can understand how it affects Children:

May brings awareness to Myasthenia Gravis, this is an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies attack and destroy nerve muscle connections. When this happens it results in muscle weakness. This disease is very rare, it affects 20 people out of 100,000 about 60k people in the United States. Juvenile MG is rarer than MG, they make up to only 10-15% of MG cases in North America. In children and teens there are 3 major types of MG found, Transients neonatal MG, Congenital MG, Juvenile MG.

Transient neonatal MG: This type of MG is temporary and is found in infants born to women with MG. When antibodies from MG cross from the mother through the placenta and into the fetus this is when transient neonatal MG occurs. This only lasts a few weeks and luckily infants are not at greater risk of developing MG later in their life.

Congenital MG: (CMG) is extremely rare non immune form of MG which is inherited. When you have CMG you begin to have symptoms at birth. Some infants get diagnosed during infancy, but others are not recognized as having CMH until later in life, even during their adult years.

Juvenile MG (JMG) this happens when antibodies interfere with nerve to muscle communication causing muscle weakness. After exertion symptoms of weakness develop, it becomes more pronounced as the day progresses. A diagnosis of JMG can be made only after weeks or months of symptoms. On certain occasions, symptoms can develop rapidly. Earliest symptoms include drooping of the eyelids, and/or incomplete movement of the eyes and double vision. Also, skeletal muscle can be involved so other symptoms include problems chewing, swallowing, and speaking clearly, shortness of breath or limb muscle weakness.

So how do you know if your child has MG?

MG can be diagnosed in many ways,

Blood Test: testing looks for antibodies which interfere with the nerve/muscle communication process to receptors on the muscle membrane.

Drug Testing: “Anticholinesterase inhibitors (edrophonium chloride given via IV use, neostigmine for injection or pyridostigmine for orally) can be used to prolong the activity of the body’s natural neuromuscular transmitter, acetylcholine. An individual is then observed to see if the weakness temporarily reverses. These tests are done under careful medical supervision.”

Electromyography/nerve conduction studies (EMG/NCS) test: the electrical connection between motor nerves and the muscles they supply.

Genetic tests: if CMG is suspected.

For even more detail check out this PDF with treatment options and more!

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