Infantile Spasms Diagnosis
While infantile spasms is a rare form of epilepsy, it can be identified by its distinct (unique) characteristics if physicians and caregivers are aware of the telltale signs. Unfortunately, infantile spasms can be mistaken for:
clusters of spasms that are typical of infantile spasms.
Common symptoms include:
Motor skills: where the child can hold head steady when sitting with your help, reach for a grasp objects, play wit toes, shake a rattle etc...
Sensory skills: where the child can open his mouth for a spoon, imitate familiar things you do etc...
Language and social skills: such as babbling, recognize a familiar face, laugh and squeal with delight, etc...
How does an EEG help diagnose Infantile Spasms?Infantile spasms is typically dignosed by using an EEG (a recording of currents from nerve cells in the brain, with fluctuations shown as waves. The EEG traces brain waves and is used to diagnose IS, epilepsy, and other types of brain disorders) to discover if the child has hypsarrhythmia.
What is Hypsarrhythmia?Infantile spasms are characterized by hypsarrhythmia (hips-A-'rith-mE-uh), a highly disorganized and chaotic pattern of brain wave abnormality found in an EEG (a diagnostic test of brain electrical activity helpful in diagnosing epilepsy). To explain further, a normal EEG shows clear separation between each signal with a visible pattern, whereas hypsarrythmia in an EEG has no recognizable pattern. Hypsarrythmia, which does not typically occur with other forms of epilepsy, can help to confirm a diagnosis of infantile spasms.
Furthermore, there is a strong correlation between hypsarrhythmia and the cognitive impairment (damage) and developmental delays that are often associated with infantile spasms. That's why an EEG is so important; it helps determine what the underlying disorder is that needs to be treated. A parent who is doing research and suspects their child may be suffering from infantile spasms must demand an EEG from a qualified child neurologist.
Why is it important to treat and diagnose infantile spasms?Proper treatment can not only stop seizures and improve the EEG, but is often associated with developmental recovery. In addition, there is growing evidence that delay in effective treatment reduces the probability that the patient will do well developmentally. For these reasons, early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of infantile spasms is critical and can improve the developmental outcomes of infants diagnosed with infantile spasms.