HOW TO RECOGNIZE
INFANTILE SPASMS

Spasms happen on their own,
not as a reaction to something

Spasms might look like sudden, brief stiffening of the muscles

  • The infant may bend forward or arch the back during an episode
  • Legs may curl up to their stomach
  • The baby may cry during or after

Spasms can be subtle and easily missed

  • Spasms be confused with startle, reflux, or colic
  • Small movements—forward crunch of the body, outward movement of the arms
  • Arms may fling out over their head and legs extend
  • Can be as simple as a head bob
  • Eyes may look up and back with the spasm or stare off to the side

Each spasm lasts only 1-2 seconds

  • They occur mainly when the baby wakes up in the morning or after a nap
  • Sometimes, episodes can happen before falling asleep

Spasms occur in repetitions, called “clusters”

  • Clusters mean that several spasms might happen one after another
  • A spasm will repeat every 15 seconds or so, forming a cluster
  • A cluster can be 10, 20, 30, or even more spasms over several minutes
  • These clusters can occur many times a day
Act today if you see movements that look like infantile spasms.

Every day without treatment means a greater chance of mental and physical developmental disabilities.

React right away

Witnessing the
symptoms can take time
and careful observation.

FROM A PARENT WHO’S
BEEN THERE

If your baby is exhibiting these types of spastic/jerking movements, please head directly to the ER and demand an EEG. Take video if you can and be prepared to be [firm] to be taken seriously. This is a very rare form of epilepsy, but it is catastrophic and considered a neurological emergency! Early and aggressive treatment is necessary to limit/prevent irreversible
brain damage.”

EEG=electroencephalogram; ER=emergency room.

Watch videos of infantile spasms

Watch several videos of infants experiencing infantile spasms

Become familiar with what infantile spasms can look like. Remember, infantile spasms can be very different from one baby to another. Be on alert for the subtleties of some spasms. If you are suspicious that your child’s movement may be a spasm, get your baby checked today.

Recognizing infantile spasm seizures in a baby
These are infantile spasms
Infantile spasms are often overlooked
Cluster of spasms
If you suspect infantile spasms, take action today

Every day matters in infantile spasms

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to better developmental outcomes.

Every day matters
in infantile spasms

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical
to better developmental outcomes.

References
  1. Smith MS, Matthews R, Mukherji P. Infantile Spasms. National Library of Medicine. Updated March 10, 2023. Accessed October 24, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537251/
  2. Chopra SS. Infantile spasms and West syndrome — a clinician’s perspective. Indian J Pediatr. 2020;87(12):1040-1046. doi:10.1007/s12098-020-03279-y
  3. Pavone P, Polizzi A, Marino SD, et al. West syndrome: a comprehensive review. Neurol Sci. 2020;41(12):3547-3562. doi:10.1007/s10072-020-04600-5
  4. What are infantile spasms and what do they look like? Epilepsy Foundation. Reviewed January 6, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2023. https://www.epilepsy.com/what-is-epilepsy/syndromes/infantile-spasms-west-syndrome
  5. Hussain SA, Lay J, Cheng E, Weng J, Sankar R, Baca CB. Recognition of infantile spasms is often delayed: the ASSIST study. J Pediatr. 2017;190:215-221.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.08.009
  6. Rao CK, Nordli DR III, Cousin JJ, Takacs DS, Sheth RD. The effect of smartphone video on lead time to diagnosis of infantile spasms. J Pediatr. 2023;258:113387. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2023.02.035
  7. Messer R, Knupp KG. Infantile spasms: opportunities to improve care. Semin Neurol. 2020;40(2):236-245. doi:10.1055/s-0040-1705121
  8. Donat JF, Wright FS. Unusual variants of infantile spasms. J Child Neurol. 1991;6(4):313-318. doi:10.1177/088307389100600405
  9. O’Callaghan FJ, Lux AL, Darke K, et al. The effect of lead time to treatment and of age of onset on developmental outcome at 4 years in infantile spasms: evidence from the United Kingdom Infantile Spasms Study. Epilepsia. 2011;52(7):1359-1364. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03127.x
  10. Specchio N, Pietrafusa N, Ferretti A, et al. Treatment of infantile spasms: why do we know so little? Expert Rev Neurother. 2020;20(6):551-566. doi:10.1080/14737175.2020.1759423
  11. Wusthoff CJ, Shellhaas RA. Can a smartphone jump start care for infantile spasms? J Pediatr. 2023;258:113442. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2023.113442
  12. Wilmshurst JM, Gaillard WD, Vinayan KP, et al. Summary of recommendations for the management of infantile seizures: Task Force Report for the ILAE Commission of Pediatrics. Epilepsia. 2015;56(8):1185-1197. doi:10.1111/epi.13057
  13. Gali K, Joshi S, Hueneke S, et al. Barriers, access and management of paediatric epilepsy with telehealth. J Telemed Telecare. 2022;28(3):213-223. doi:10.1177/1357633X20969531