New Treatment Guideline Issued for Infantile Spasms

Experts lay out what treatments work best on seizures

MONDAY, May 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is probably effective for short-term treatment of infantile spasms, but there isn't enough evidence to recommend the optimum dosage or length of treatment, claims a new guideline from the American Academy of Neurology.

The guideline also states:

  • There is insufficient evidence to determine whether oral corticosteroids are an effective treatment for infantile spasms.
  • The drug vigabatrin is possibly effective for short-term treatment of infantile spasms and is possibly also effective treatment for children with tuberous sclerosis. Children taking vigabratin should have regular vision tests because the drug can affect the retina.
  • There is insufficient evidence to recommend other treatments of infantile spasms.

The guideline, which appears in the May 25 issue of Neurology, was developed after the authors reviewed all the scientific studies on infantile spasms. Also called West syndrome, it's a rare disorder that usually appears in infants when they're 4 to 6 months old and stops by the time children are aged 2 to 4.

These spasms rarely respond to the usually anti-seizure drugs. Many children with infantile spasms experience developmental difficulties when they're older.

"This guideline will be helpful for parents because many parents are understandably concerned about the serious side effects of ACTH and vigabatrin," guideline co-author Dr. Mark Mackay, of the Royal Children's Hospital in Victoria, Australia, said in a prepared statement.

"Even though there are other anticonvulsant drugs that have less serious side effects, a careful review of the medical literature suggests that ACTH and vigabatrin offer the best chance of seizure control and reversal of the developmental regression that is often associated with this severe form of epilepsy," Mackay said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about infantile spasms.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, May 24, 2004
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