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Myasthenia Gravis

What is myasthenia gravis?

Illustration of myastenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a complex, autoimmune disorder in which antibodies destroy neuromuscular connections. This causes problems with the nerves that communicate with muscles. MG affects the voluntary muscles of the body, especially the eyes, mouth, throat, and limbs.

What causes myasthenia gravis?

Myasthenia gravis may be inherited as a rare, genetic disease, it may be acquired by babies born to mothers with MG, or the disorder may develop spontaneously later in childhood.

What are the types of myasthenia gravis?

There are three types of MG in children, including the following:

What are the symptoms of myasthenia gravis?

The following are the most common symptoms of myasthenia gravis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of myasthenia gravis may resemble other conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How is myasthenia gravis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of myasthenia gravis is made after the sudden or gradual onset of specific symptoms and after diagnostic testing. During the physical examination, the physician obtains a complete medical history of the child, and may also ask if there is a family history of any medical problems.

Diagnosis of MG is usually confirmed with a Tensilon test. With this test, a small amount of medicine (Tensilon) is injected into the child. If the child has MG, an immediate, but brief, increase in muscle tone is noted.

Other diagnostic tests that may be performed to help confirm the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis include:

Treatment of myasthenia gravis:

Specific treatment for myasthenia gravis will be determined by your child's physician based on:

There is no cure for MG, but the symptoms can sometimes be controlled. Myasthenia gravis is a life-long medical condition and the key to medically managing MG is early detection.

The goal of treatment is to prevent respiratory problems and provide adequate nutritional care to the child since the swallowing and breathing muscles are affected by this condition.

Treatment may include:

The extent of the problems is dependent on the severity of the condition and the presence of other problems that could affect the child. In severe cases, a breathing machine may be required to help the child breathe easier.

The healthcare team educates the family after hospitalization on how to best care for their child at home and outlines specific clinical problems that require immediate medical attention by their physician. A child with MG requires frequent medical evaluations throughout his/her life.

It is important to allow the child as much independent function and self care, especially with juvenile MG, as possible and to promote age-appropriate activities to ensure a sense of normalcy.

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