WEST SYNDROME AND INFANTILE SPASMS

WEST SYNDROME AND INFANTILE SPASMS

What are infantile spasms?


Infantile spasms are a type of seizures that tend to affect children under the age of 2
years. In this, children have tightening and jerky movements of limbs and body. These
usually occur in clusters. Clusters of spasms usually occur upon awakening but can
happen at any time of the day.

What is West Syndrome?


West syndrome is a clinical condition characterised by the combination of
o Infantile spasms
o Abnormal EEG showing chaotic pattern called Hypsarrhythmia
o Delayed development or loss of acquired milestones

Why is it called ‘West’ Syndrome?


West Syndrome is named after the English surgeon Dr.William James West, who
published the first description of infantile spasms in 1841, having witnessed the
disease in his own son, James E West. He named the seizures “Salaam Tics” at the
time.

How do I recognise infantile spasms?


Infantile spasms manifest in different forms. These usually consist of a brief
interruption of behaviour, with lifting and extension of the arms and bending forward
at the waist. This may be accompanied by a rapid and forceful drop of the head. The
individual spasms last a few seconds. Spasms often occur in clusters and the child
may have several of them in a row, although singles spasms are possible. After the
first spasm, there is a pause and then another spasm follows. Each cluster typically
lasts a few minutes. After individual spasms, children often cry. They usually occur as
child wakes up from sleep.

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