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Infantile Spasms (West Syndrome)

Overview

Infantile spasms (West syndrome) is a type of epilepsy that usually starts before a child is 1 year old. The spasms affect a child's head, torso, and limbs. The spasms last for seconds and may occur in clusters. Children with West syndrome have certain changes in the electrical impulses in the brain. And most have developmental delays.

Although an exact cause cannot always be found, infantile spasms may be caused by diseases, injuries, or infections that occurred before, during, or after birth.

Infantile spasms are treated with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) or steroids like prednisone. Vigabatrin, an antiseizure medicine, may also be an effective treatment for infantile spasms. Sometimes other antiseizure medicines are used.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: August 25, 2022

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