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Infantile Spasms

What are infantile spasms?

Infantile spasms typically consist of a sudden jerk followed by stiffening. Often the arms are flung out as the knees are pulled up and the body bends forward. Each seizure lasts only a second or two but they usually occur close together in a series. Sometimes the spasms are mistaken for colic, but the cramps of colic do not typically occur in a series.

Infantile spasms are most common just after waking up and rarely occur during sleep.  This particularly severe form of epilepsy can lead to poor development and needs to be treated emergently.

Infantile spasms typically begin between 3 and 12 months of age and usually stop by the age of 2 to 4 years.

How are infantile spasms treated?

Treatment for infantile spasms usually includes steroid therapy,  certain anticonvulsant medications, or the ketogenic diet.

Request an appointment

For more information about infantile spasms or to meet with our doctors, request an appointment at the Johns Hopkins Epilepsy Center.


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