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Diagnosis and outcome of SCN4A-related severe neonatal episodic laryngospasm (SNEL): 2 new cases.

Caietta E, Milh M, Sternberg D, Lépine A, Boulay C, McGonigal A, Chabrol B


Mutations of SCN4A encoding the skeletal muscle sodium channel Nav 1.4 cause several types of disease, including sodium channel myotonias. The latter may be responsible for neonatal symptoms, including severe neonatal episodic laryngospasm (SNEL). Establishing the diagnosis of SCN4A-related SNEL early in the neonatal period is crucial because treatment is available that can reduce laryngospasm and improve vital and cerebral outcome. We report 2 new unrelated French patients who presented with SNEL. The first patient was initially diagnosed with laryngomalacia and underwent laryngeal surgery in the neonatal period before being diagnosed with myotonia at 14 months of age. The episodes of laryngospasm disappeared spontaneously, although occasional circumstances such as cold exposure could trigger laryngeal reactions; in addition, he developed myotonia corresponding to an adult myotonia permanens phenotype. This patient is now 24 years old and leading a normal life. The second patient was initially diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux, then SNEL; his condition improved with carbamazepine treatment, and he is now 6 months old. The diagnostic sequence in both patients was the same: first, severe episodic apneic attacks necessitating hospitalization occurring in the first week of life; second, observation of muscle hypertrophy and peripheral hypertonia with a clear myotonic pattern on electromyogram (at 14 and 3 months of age, respectively); third, genetic testing revealing de novo SCN4A G1306E mutation. Both patients have had good therapeutic response to sodium channel blockers (carbamazepine or mexiletine).

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