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Health Information For Parents
Infantile spasms (IS) is a seizure disorder in babies. The seizures (or spasms) make muscles in the arms and legs stiff and bend the baby’s head forward. They look very much like a startle.
Babies also might have slowed development or loss of skills (like babbling, sitting, or crawling). Although the spasms usually go away by the time a child is 4 years old, many babies with IS will have other kinds of epilepsy later in life.
Spasms start suddenly and last a second or two. They often come one after another in a cluster that lasts several minutes. They happen most often just after waking. They’re often mistaken for colic, reflux, or hiccupping.
A baby having a spasm might have:
Infantile spasms (also called West syndrome) can be caused by brain malformations, infections, brain injury, or abnormal blood vessels in the brain. IS also can happen in babies with certain metabolic and genetic disorders. In rare cases, a baby’s infantile spasms are caused by vitamin B6 deficiency.
Sometimes, the cause isn’t known. However, more and more gene mutations are being linked to infantile spasms.
Infantile spasms are diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist (a doctor who specializes in brain, spine and nervous system problems). Testing may include:
Infantile spasms usually are treated with seizure medicines or steroids. If medicines don’t control the spasms, a special diet, such as the ketogenic diet, might help. Sometimes, doctors may recommend surgery.
To help your child, follow the doctor’s instructions to:
Seizures are a common symptom of epilepsy, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Learn all about epilepsy, including what to do if you see someone having a seizure.
It comes from a Greek word meaning “to hold or seize,” and seizures are what happen to people with epilepsy. Learn more about epilepsy in this article written just for kids.
Epilepsy causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire, which can lead to multiple seizures. Anyone can get epilepsy at any age, but mostÂ new diagnoses are in kids.
Epilepsy surgery is an operation done on the brain to reduce or stop seizures.
Kids with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) have seizures that start in one of the temporal lobes of the brain. Seizures usually get better with medicine.
Seizures are caused by a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. Find out what you need to know about seizures and what to do if your child has one.
A ketogenic diet is a strict high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that can reduce, and sometimes stop, seizures.
Kids with childhood absence epilepsy (CAE) have seizures where they “blank out” for a few seconds. Most kids will outgrow CAE.
Intractable epilepsy is when a child’s seizures can’t be controlled by medicines. Doctors may recommend surgery or other treatments for intractable seizures.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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