Infantile spasms is one of the epilepsy syndromes that is frequently missed or misdiagnosed. As a result, it is often difficult to treat. This syndrome can be associated with loss of developmental abilities too. While seizure control is critical, living with infantile spasms is more than just the seizures. Careful attention to other health problems and the quality of life of the child and family must be key elements of appropriate care.
Infantile spasms may occur in children without any clear cause, or be caused by Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (also called TSC). Tuberous sclerosis is a genetic condition that causes benign tumors (not cancerous) to grow in the brain and other important body areas. For example, tumors can be arise in areas such as the kidneys, heart, lungs, eyes and skin. Tumors in the brain are actually the cause of seizures, while tumors in other areas may cause other health problems that need monitoring and treatment too. It can occur in both males and females and in all ethnic groups and races.
Partnering with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, the Epilepsy Foundation presents the following information adapted from the TS Alliance.
For more detailed information, please visit TS Alliance.
What are Infantile Spasms?
Infantile spasms (IS) is an age-specific seizure type that occurs in 1 out of 2,000 children from many different causes. Tuberous sclerosis complex (also called TSC) is a common cause of infantile spasms, with IS affecting about one third of children with TSC. The infantile spasms are most often seen in children between four and six months of age, although these seizures can begin anytime in the first two years. Rarely they are seen in older children up to age 10; at this age, the seizures are called juvenile spasms.
Infantile spasms are often mistaken for other conditions. Yet, prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment of infantile spasms are critical, because children may stop developing normally or even lose skills soon after the spasms begin. Significant intellectual disabilities may also be seen if the seizures are left untreated. Swift and effective treatment may provide the best developmental outcomes possible for a child with infantile spasms and for children who also have TSC.
Reviewed and updated by Elizabeth Thiele, MD, PhD, and Martina Bebin, MD, March 2011. Reviewed and updated by W. Donald Shields, MD, October 2013.
Reviewed/revised for epilepsy.com: Patricia O. Shafer RN, MN, Joseph I. Sirven, December 30, 2013.
**This information from the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance is intended to provide basic information about TSC. It is not intended to, nor does it, constitute medical or other advice. Readers are warned not to take any action with regard to medical treatment without first consulting a health care provider. The TS Alliance does not promote or recommend any treatment, therapy, institution or health care plan.