infantile spasms

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(salaam attacks) a rare but serious form of epilepsy that usually begins between three and eight months of age. The spasms are involuntary flexing movements of the arms, legs, neck, and trunk; each spasm lasts 1–3 seconds and is associated with flushing of the face, and runs of spasms occur over a period of several minutes. They may occur many times in one day. The baby fails to respond to human contact and development is usually profoundly slowed. An EEG pattern of hypsarrhythmia is usual and diagnostic. Diagnosis may be delayed as spasms are sometimes confused with colic. Immediate recognition and treatment with antiepileptic medication, corticosteroids, or ACTH offers a chance of arresting the disease, but outcome depends primarily on the nature of the underlying brain abnormality.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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