UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Infantile Spasms

Keywords: infant, neonate, spasm (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/4/2009 by Heidi-Marie Kellock, MD
Click here to contact Heidi-Marie Kellock, MD

Infantile Spasms (West Syndrome):

  • Are brief contractions of the neck, trunk, arm, and leg muscles that last 2-10 seconds
  • Are NOT seizures, but 86% of children with infantile spasms go on to develop a seizure disorder before 1 year of age
  • Usually occur as the child is going to sleep or waking up
  • Most commonly seen between 3 and 8 months of age
  • Often mistakenly diagnosed as colic
  • Poor prognosis as infantile spasms usually indicate an underlying genetic, metabolic, or developmental abnormality


Nelson's Essentials of Pediatrics, 5th Edition.