Infantile spasms care in Denver, Colorado

Infantile spasms (IS) is a rare, but serious epilepsy syndrome in young children. At Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC) in Denver, our multidisciplinary Center for Maternal/Fetal Health team works together with parents to diagnosis and treat infantile spasms, as well as provide education about the condition. Our pediatric neurologists understand that this can be scary for both you and your child, so we ensure that you are completely comfortable and are in good hands.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call (720) 754-7642.

Infantile spasms, also known as West syndrome, is estimated to occur in about one in 3,000 births. Symptoms typically appear within the first year of life, most commonly when an infant is between four and six months old. Infantile spasms may or may not produce symptoms. Because presenting symptoms can be subtle and are often confused with other conditions, it can take time to get an accurate diagnosis.

Symptomatic spasms account for about 80 percent of all IS cases and are caused by something that can be identified during diagnosis. The remaining 20 percent of IS have no identifiable cause, despite a thorough evaluation.

Types of infantile spasms

Our Center for Maternal/Fetal Health specialists in pediatric neurological care have experience diagnosing and treating all types of infantile spasms, including:.

Flexion spasms

Flexion spasms appear as truncal flexion and are often described as the child is performing a “jack-knife” stomach crunch. In some children, all that is noticed is a head nod.

Extensor spasms

Extensor spasms usually have back arching with upper body extension.

Mixed spasms

Mixed spasms are the most common type of infantile spasms. These spasms often have truncal and/or head flexion with upper body extension. The spasms are quite brief and have a quick initial phase with a slightly slower relaxation phase. They tend to cluster, often upon falling asleep or waking up, and your child will cry afterward.

Diagnosing infantile spasms

At RMHC, our Center for Maternal/Fetal Health specialists may order one or more of the following lab tests and imaging tests to diagnose IS:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Genetic/metabolic testing
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Usually, when your child receives an electroencephalogram (EEG), it presents a chaotic reading. This condition can lead to the possibility of brain damage

Infantile spasms treatment

The treatment we provide at RMHC is focused on clearing up your child’s EEG and stopping the spasms.

Intramuscular adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) has shown to be the most effective medication. However, oral steroids and conventional anticonvulsants also can be effective for some patients. Our pediatric neurologists will continue to follow-up with your baby to verify if symptoms have improved and if the spasms can be controlled.