Infantile Spasms and Birth Injuries
West syndrome, also referred to as infantile spasms, is a rare type of epilepsy that affects babies. It’s estimated that it occurs in about 1 in 2,000 children and symptoms typically begin to show before the child is a year old, most commonly between the ages of 4 and 8 months.
When a child has infantile spasms/West syndrome, they experience clusters of very brief seizures. Each seizure only lasts for a few seconds, but they’ll experience multiple seizures in a row. How many seizures a child can have in a cluster and how many clusters a child can have per day varies greatly from child to child. It’s not unheard of for some babies to have over 100 seizures in a cluster, but in some cases, parents and caregivers may overlook the signs of infantile spasms because a child’s symptoms are so mild and brief.
When a child with infantile spasms has a seizure, their symptoms might include arms and legs jerking upward, changes in breathing patterns, arms and legs going straight out, muscles stiffening and relaxing, the head dropping forward or pulling backwards, an arched back, or eyes rolling upwards or to the side. Seizures caused by West syndrome very commonly occur shortly after a baby has woken up.
After a child begins experiencing infantile spasms, parents often notice that the child stops meeting their developmental milestones or even stops doing things they had previously been able to do, such as crawling or rolling over. The child might also become fussier, quieter, or less interested in social interactions.
Infantile spasms can be caused by many different things, including metabolic disorders, disorders like tuberous sclerosis and Down syndrome, brain lesions, and infections or inflammation of the brain. It’s also possible for infantile spasms to be the result of birth trauma. Brain injuries and experiencing a lack of oxygen during delivery can increase the risk of a child developing infantile spasms.
If you suspect your child has infantile spasms/West syndrome, it’s very important to talk to your pediatrician as soon as possible because the earlier the condition can be diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin and the seizures can hopefully be brought to a stop. However, even if infantile spasms can be stopped through medical treatment, there’s still a chance that the child could develop other types of epilepsy or seizure disorders as they get older.
It’s not always easy to pinpoint an exact cause of infantile spasms, but if you believe your child’s infantile spasms were caused by a brain injury or a lack of oxygen that occurred during or shortly after delivery, it’s very important to talk to a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. Cases involving medical malpractice and medical negligence are very complicated and by talking to a lawyer, you’ll be able to get answers to all of your questions. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have lawyers who are experienced in handling birth trauma cases. Contact us today for help with your case.