Should My Baby Be Tested for LEMS?

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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disease testing and babies

If you or your partner has Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), you may be wondering whether your baby should be tested for this disease.

About LEMS

LEMS is a rare autoimmune disease in which the body produces autoantibodies that attack the neuromuscular junction — the point at which nerve and muscle cells meet.

Although there are genetic factors that can predispose a person to LEMS, there is no known genetic cause. It’s very rare to have multiple cases of LEMS within the same family.

LEMS and pregnancy

If you have LEMS during your pregnancy, your baby is exposed to your antibodies while in the uterus, and it is possible that they could have an effect on a developing fetus. However, because LEMS generally appears later in life, it’s rare for women with LEMS to conceive. In the few cases that have been documented in medical literature, the babies were tested after birth for LEMS but did not have the disease.

Babies also have their mother’s antibodies for a few months to a year after birth. And those being breastfed receive antibodies through breast milk.

Should my baby be tested?

It’s always a good idea to discuss testing with your doctor who is treating you for LEMS. They can tell you if there are specific factors in your case that might make it more likely for your baby to develop LEMS.

Your baby’s pediatrician can also help you determine when — or if — to test your child for LEMS.

What kind of LEMS tests are available?

There are several tests that clinicians can use for LEMS. The most common is a blood test that detects autoantibodies that cause LEMS and are present in about 85% of patients.

Another test that clinicians frequently use for LEMS is electromyography, which measures the interaction between nerve and muscle cells.

When should my baby be tested?

In order to test your baby for LEMS-causing autoantibodies, they may have to be old enough to be weaned. The blood test can possibly be used before weaning if you are planning to formula feed.


Last updated: July 10, 2020


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