Myasthenia gravis disease is an autoimmune disorder where the antibodies produced by the body destroy the neuromuscular connections between muscles. This leads to problems between the nerves that help in communication between the brain and the muscles. Most of the time, it affects voluntary muscles of the body like those around the eyes, mouth, throat and limbs.
The different types of myasthenia gravis in children, and the corresponding symptoms are as described below:
Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome (CMS)
This is a rare, non-immune form, and is caused by a genetic mutation that is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, that is the child inherits two defective copies of the gene. The symptoms are usually seen about a year after the baby's birth, and remain forever.
Infants with CMS have weak limbs, and exhibit delay in development of motor skills like crawling, sitting and walking. These infants also show poor feeding habits, poor head control and weak eyelids.
Transient Neonatal Myasthenia Gravis
This is a temporary form of the disease observed in only in infants. It is seen that 10 to 15% of babies that are born to mothers with myasthenia gravis are affected with this condition. The symptoms last only for a few weeks, and clear away as soon as the maternal antibodies clear away from the bloodstream of the infant.
The symptoms include weakness and reduced sucking capacity. These infants may also have respiratory problems, and a few need mechanical breathing machines to help them breathe. These babies gradually develop the strength to breathe on their own as the maternal antibodies are removed from their bodies.
Juvenile Myasthenia Gravis
This form is commonly seen in female adolescents. This is a life-long disorder, and the patient may keep going in and out of remission.
The symptoms take weeks or months to develop. They make the child very tired even after doing light activity. Then, the child starts having problems while chewing and swallowing. In some children, the eyelids become weak, and droop to an extent that they cannot see.
The treatment depends on the child's age, medical history, level of tolerance to specific medication, and the severity of the condition. However, parents should keep in mind that there is no cure for this disorder. The treatment only helps in controlling the progression, and dealing with the symptoms. The treatment includes cholinesterase-inhibitor medication, and high dose of intravenous neutralizing immunoglobulins. In some cases, the doctor may suggest thymectomy, where the thymus gland is removed. Also, plasmapheresis is a treatment option that helps in removal of abnormal antibodies from the blood.
You should speak to your health care provider, if you feel that your child is showing symptoms similar to those mentioned above. In extreme cases, a child may need ventilator support due to an inability to breathe. Therefore, proper medical care will help controlling the condition.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.