Infantile Spasms (West Syndrome)

Topic Overview

Infantile spasms (West syndrome) are muscle spasms that affect a child's head, torso, and limbs. Infantile spasms usually begin before the age of 6 months.

  • Most children with infantile spasms have below-average intelligence. More than half have severe disabilities.
  • Although an exact cause cannot always be found, infantile spasms may be caused by diseases, injuries, or infections that occurred before or during birth.

Infantile spasms are treated with adrenocorticotropic hormone or prednisone. They generally do not respond well to medicines used to treat epilepsy. Vigabatrin (Sabril) may also be an effective treatment for infantile spasms especially when they are caused by a disease called tuberous sclerosis.

Related Information

Credits

Current as ofJune 3, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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