Infantile spasms (also called “West syndrome” after the physician who first described the spasms in the 1840s) are a special form of infant epilepsy. The spasms commonly begin between four and eight months of age and gradually disappear during the second to fourth year of life.
In the most common form of the disease, the body bends as the arms jerk outward. Less often, the head is thrown back as the back arches and the arms and legs stiffen. Spasms last for a few seconds but quickly recur, usually in a series of five to 50 seizures. Children with infantile spasms may have several hundred seizures per day.
Shortly after the spasms begin, afflicted children often stop making developmental progress. Only 10 to 20 percent will have normal mental function.
Each case varies and there is no general prognosis. Cases are considered individually. Please consult your physician if your child has these symptoms.
The following drug is FDA-approved for the treatment of IS.