Practice Guideline Briefs

Treatment of Infantile Spasms

Am Fam Physician. 2004 Jul 15;70(2):399.

Treatment of Infantile Spasms

The American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society have released new guidelines on treating infantile spasms. “Practice Parameter: Medical Treatment of Infantile Spasms” appears in the May 2004 issue of Neurology and is available online at http://www.neurology.org/cgi/reprint/62/10/1668.

Infantile spasms, also called West Syndrome, is a rare disorder that usually begins in infants four to six months of age and stops by the age of two to four years. The spams are a type of seizure associated with sudden flexion or extension movements. Infantile spasms rarely respond to the usual antiseizure medications. Most children with infantile spasms have developmental disabilities later in life.

The authors of the guideline reviewed all of the scientific studies on the topic. According to the authors, there are not many well-designed, prospective studies on infantile spasms, and more research is needed to answer many questions about the treatment of this disorder.

According to the guideline, adrenocorticotropic hormone is probably effective for the short-term treatment of infantile spasms. However, there is not enough evidence to recommend the optimum dosage and length of treatment. There also is insufficient evidence to determine whether oral corticosteroids are an effective treatment for infantile spasms.

The drug vigabatrin is possibly effective for the short-term treatment of infantile spasms and is possibly effective for children with tuberous sclerosis. The evidence suggests that the vision of children taking vigabatrin should be tested regularly, because the drug can affect the retina.

There is insufficient evidence to recommend other treatments for infantile spasms, and there is insufficient evidence to conclude that successful treatment of infantile spasms improves the long-term prognosis, according to the authors.


Copyright © 2004 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Article Tools

  • Print page
  • Share this page
  • AFP CME Quiz

Information From Industry

Navigate this Article