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West Syndrome/Infantile Spasms

Infantile Spasm Treatments

The child’s body may suddenly bend forward, and their arms and legs stiffen. 

West syndrome is an array of symptoms defined by epileptic/infantile spasms, intellectual disability, and abnormal brain wave patterns called hypsarrhythmia. Infantile spasms are a specific type of seizure and spasms that affect infants and children. It is quite common to have a misdiagnosis made early. Colic is often a misdiagnosis due to the pattern of the attacks and the child’s cry during or after an attack.

Early treatment options pursued are different types of steroids, corticosteroids, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), or vigabatrin. Vigabatrin is an effective option for those whose spasms are caused by tuberous sclerosis complex. Research suggests that some infants respond better to a combination of vigabatrin and a steroid given at the same time. Side effects accompany each treatment. Parents should be mindful and watch their children closely.

Other helpful anti-seizure medications may include Onfi, Klonopin, Depakote, Topamax, vitamin B6, or Zonegran. These medications are considered less effective than steroids/ACTH and vigabatrin. Dietary therapy (often called the ketogenic diet) may also be helpful for some infants. Malformations of the brain or tuberous sclerosis complex are reasons to explore epilepsy surgery.

Approximately sixty percent of children will have their spasms controlled. Many infants with infantile spasms will develop autism or have intellectual disabilities later in life. Many children develop focal or multifocal epilepsy later in life, and these do not respond well to current treatments.


Early diagnosis and treatment are important in a child’s developmental outcomes.

Usually, the spasms stop by the time a child is four years old. But most people who have West syndrome will have other kinds of epilepsy or seizure conditions when they’re older.

Our multidisciplinary clinical team will design an individualized treatment plan for your child after an exhaustive examination and a complete review of the child’s medical history. We use our 25+ years of experience to design a unique treatment option. 

Children’s Brain Institute, The knowledge you need. The compassion you deserve.


Our Fast Access Neurology (FAN) Service ensures a clinic visit with an expert pediatric neurologist in our institution within 24 to 72 hours after referral or initial contact with the Children’s Brain Institute.

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Accepted Health Insurance Types

Various health insurance types are accepted, including Medicare and most HMO and PPO insurance.

Call (781) 863-0007 or click to request a same-day appointment.