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Information About Infantile Spasms

Infantile spasms are often characterized by a sudden bending forward and stiffening of the body, arms, and legs. There can also be arching of the torso. These spasms typically last between one and five seconds, and tend to occur in clusters, ranging from 2 to 100 spasms at a time.
 
It is possible for an infant to have dozens of clusters and several hundred spasms per day. Although these spasms usually stop by age five, they are often replaced by other types of seizures.
 
What causes them? In many cases, they are associated with West syndrome, which is characterized by infantile spasms, hypsarrhythmia (abnormal, chaotic brainwave patterns), and mental retardation. Other neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy, may also cause infantile spasms.
 
(Click Infantile Spasms for more information, including some of the factors that will affect your child's prognosis.)
 
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