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 (Acthar) 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 of: April 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Steven C. Schachter MD - Neurology

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