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Why does my son experience jerks while sleeping?

Q: My 22-month-old son jerks while he's asleep. This started happening a couple days after he had his febrile seizure at the age of 18 months. His jerks were milder before but recently they feel much stronger. Do I need to go to a neurologist?

A:The phenomenon of jerks occurring during sleep is common in children. The fact that the jerks occur only during sleep makes it likely that they are sleep jerks or benign sleep myoclonus. These are non- epileptic and don't warrant treatment as they will disappear over time. They occur during certain phases of sleep, wherein one of the arm, hand, leg or foot jerks for some seconds. The concern to parents or doctors is that whether these jerks are a manifestation of epilepsy. Three hints help us to say that these are not epileptic; 1. They occur only in sleep 2. If you arouse the child immediately at the start of the jerks, these movements stop. 3. EEG in these children is normal.


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