What is neonatal myasthenia gravis (MG) and how is it managed?

Updated: Aug 27, 2018
  • Author: Abbas A Jowkar, MBBS; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, CPE, MHCM, FAAPL  more...
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Transient neonatal MG, in which MG is transmitted vertically from an affected mother to her fetus, occurs in 10-30% of neonates born to myasthenic mothers. It may occur any time during the first 7-10 days of life, and infants should be monitored closely for any signs of respiratory distress.

The syndrome of neonatal myasthenia is caused by transplacental transfer of maternal autoantibodies against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR). Infants affected by this condition are floppy at birth, and they display poor sucking, muscle tone, and respiratory effort. They often require respiratory support and intravenous (IV) feeding, as well as monitoring in a neonatal ICU. As the transferred maternal antibodies are metabolized over several weeks, symptoms abate and the infants develop normally.

Treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors is effective in this age group as well. However, the dosage must be carefully titrated to the clinical effect.

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