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Infantile Spasms (West Syndrome)


Infantile spasms is a rare type of seizure disorder that occurs in infants between the ages of 4 and 6 months. The seizures usually occur when the infant awakening or trying to fall asleep. The infant typically has brief periods of spasms of the neck, trunk or legs that last for a few seconds. Infants may have clusters of seizures with up to hundreds per a day, which can be a serious problem and cause long-term complications. Infants typically have normal development prior to onset of seizures.


About three-fourths of infants with infantile spasms have underlying brain abnormalities. The physician will order a variety of tests, such as EEG, CT, and/or MRI brain imaging. The EEG will show hypsarrhythmia, which is a chaotic pattern between seizures. CT or MRI neuroimaging will test for signs of tuberous sclerosis, a brain infection or structural abnormality.


EEG of infantile spasms



In some infants, spasms will stop spontaneously without any treatment. But most will require anti-epileptic drugs such as Sabril® (vigabatrin), adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH® (corticotrophin), or prednisone, to control the seizures. Infantile spasms caused by tuberous sclerosis respond well to Sabril®.

A ketogenic diet may also control or reduce seizures in some infants. 

Drug information changes periodically. For the most updated information on drugs, visit www.drugs.com.

Last Update
July 2, 2012
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Last Update
July 2, 2012