The Importance of Awareness for Infantile Spasms


Parents are often worried about the health of their children; they do not want anything bad happening to their kids. They constantly look out for signs and symptoms of sicknesses, making sure that they can help as soon as possible. Something that parents do not tend to look out for is infantile spasms, as many are unaware of this condition. Because of the rarity of this disorder, many parents do not know to keep an eye out for symptoms. For this reason, it is very important that knowledge on infantile spasms is spread and awareness is raised.

About Infantile Spasms

Infantile spasms is a seizure disorder in babies, with seizures making the infant’s limbs stiff and their head bend forward. They tend to last for only a few seconds. Infantile spasms tend to stop around four years old, but children who have this disorder tend to have some form of epilepsy later in life.

There are multiple things that can cause this disorder. Brain malformations, infections, brain injuries, or abnormal blood vessels in the brain can all be the reason for infantile spasms. Certain genetic and metabolic disorders can also cause this condition. While it is very rare, a deficiency of vitamin B6 can also be the reason for the spasms. Research into this condition is still being conducted, and it is leading to the linking of more genetic mutations to infantile spasms.

The seizures only last for a few seconds, but they occur in quick succession for a few minutes at a time. Waking up is often the trigger. Babies in the midst of a spasm often contort their bodies into the jackknife position, with their knees pulled towards their chests, arms flung out, and heads bent. They may also bend their head backwards and straighten their limbs. Small movements may also occur throughout the body. Due to these symptoms, this disorder is often mistaken for colic, reflux, or hiccuping.

Infantile spasms should be diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist. They will conduct tests like blood and urine tests, EEGs, VEEGs, CAT scans, or MRIs in order to confirm a diagnosis. After one is obtained, treatment usually consists of seizure medications or steroids. Special diets, such as the ketogenic diet, may also help to manage the seizures. At times doctors may also recommend surgery.

Importance of Awareness

As infantile spasms can often be confused with other problems that are common in babies, it is important to know the signs and symptoms. About 1,200 newborns are diagnosed with this disorder every year, but many healthcare providers do not know of it. It is integral that these providers, parents, and caregivers all know of infantile spasms so that they can help the infant to the best of their abilities. If this condition does go untreated, it can cause damage to a baby’s developing brain. It is recommended that everyone know the symptoms, take a video if they think a baby is experiencing a spasm, and show it to a doctor in order to obtain a diagnosis. With more awareness, more babies will receive treatment, and there can be advances in the treatment for this disorder.

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