Department of Neurology

Myoclonic epilepsy and prognosis

Q: What is the prognosis for cognitive development in a child diagnosed with myoclonic epilepsy? Also, what is the prognosis for that same child if he/she has his seizures eliminated through the ketogenic diet?

(To give you some background, my son is now 4 1/2 years old and has been seizure-free on the ketogenic diet for two years. I see his intelligence improving... but he is still delayed and we are wondering if the diagnosis of "myoclonic epilepsy" will hold long-term consequences)

Thank you so much for tackling this question. It is very difficult to find information on myoclonic epilepsy.

A: Myoclonus refers to sudden, shock-like jerks, and is seen in several epilepsy syndromes. Some of the myoclonic epilepsies are benign (associated with normal development and a good prognosis) and some are not -- it depends on the underlying cause. You mentioned that your son has had intellectual impairment, and thus his seizures are more likely to be related to an underlying brain problem. In most cases, control of seizures is a better prognostic factor, whether achieved through medications or other therapies.

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