Main content

    Health Information

    Infantile Spasms (West Syndrome)

    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-normal 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

    By Healthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
    Specialist Medical Reviewer Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology
    Last Revised August 28, 2013

    Last Revised: August 28, 2013

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

    1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.