Infantile spasms are a type of seizure occurring in early childhood. They are characterized by a baby’s arm and leg muscles stiffening and their heads bending forward. Time is of the essence in diagnosing and treating infantile spasm as a delay in treatment can be associated with adverse neurological outcomes.
We represent a family who took their infant to a neurologist in their rural community and showed him a video demonstrating classic infantile spasms. The neurologist referred them to a pediatric neurologist, who failed to undertake a proper work up and missed the diagnosis. As a consequence, the baby did not receive appropriate treatment and suffered profound brain damage.
When the family sought a second opinion from another pediatric neurologist, it was immediately recognized as infantile spasms and a 24-hour EEG confirmed the diagnosed and therapy was begun. Unfortunately, in this case, it was too late to prevent brain damage.
If in doubt as to whether a child may be suffering infantile spasms, it is essential that the child be referred to a epileptologist , i.e. a specialist in epilepsy, and given the benefit of prolonged EEG monitoring. Time is of the essence in diagnosing and treating infantile spasms.