Infantile spasms (IS) affect newborns before the age of one and in some children, occurring up to age two. IS impacts more than 1,200 infants per year in the United States. While rare, these seizures can cause long-term damage to a child's developing brain. IS can happen in clusters, dozens at a time, and in some cases, leading to hundreds of seizures per day if left untreated.
Infantile spasms (IS) can be mistaken for other conditions because the IS can be very subtle in presentation, therefore prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment is delayed. This delay has direct negative impact on a child's development.
Infantile Spasms (ISs) are one of the most undiagnosed but treatable neurological conditions, often missed or misdiagnosed by primary care or emergency medical providers, potentially leading to delay of intervention or neurodevelopmental consequences.
Answers and Resources for Primary Care Pediatricians and Subspecialists
Know the signs of subtle seizures
Know the signs of infantile spasms
- Jerking at the tummy*
- Arm raising*
- Wide-eyed blinks*
*These movements are repetitive, subtle and occur every 3-5 seconds lasting 5-30+ minutes in clusters.
IS is life threatening and requires intervention in infancy. However, IS is not always detected prenatally or upon exam in the nursery. As a result, some infants with IS are discharged from the nursery to home, where they may go undiagnosed, leading to neurodevelopmental delay. To improve the early detection of IS, IS experts recommend screening for IS upon the initial exams.
Know the signs to 'STOP' Infantile Spasms
Keep this easily remembered acronym in mind 'STOP' Infantile Spasms:
- See the signs: Clusters of sudden, repeadted, uncontrolled movements like head bobs or body crunching
- Take a video: Record the symptoms and talk to your doctor immediately
- Obtain diagnosis: Confirm an irregular brain wave pattern with an EEG test.
- Prioritize treatment: End spasms to minimize developmental delays.