Randomised, placebo-controlled study of vigabatrin as first-line treatment of infantile spasms

Epilepsia. 1999 Nov;40(11):1627-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1999.tb02049.x.


Purpose: Vigabatrin (VGB) has been shown to be an effective drug in the treatment of infantile spasms (West syndrome) in predominantly retrospective and open but also in prospective studies. This prospective, randomised, and placebo-controlled trial of VGB in infantile spasms was considered to be justified and feasible to confirm or refute these previous findings.

Methods: Forty children with newly diagnosed infantile spasms received either VGB or placebo for 5 days in a double blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study, after which all the infants continuing in the study were treated openly with VGB for a minimum of 24 weeks.

Results: Compared with baseline, at the end of the double-blind phase, the patients treated with VGB had a 78% (95% confidence interval, 55-89%) reduction in spasms compared with 26% (-56-65%) in the group treated with placebo (p = 0.020). Seven VGB-treated patients and two placebo-treated patients were spasm free on the final day of the double-blind period (p = 0.063). At the end of the study, 15 children (38% of the original 40 patients or 42% of the 36 patients who entered the open phase) were spasm free with VGB monotherapy. No patient withdrew from the study because of an adverse event.

Conclusions: This unique randomized, placebo-controlled study is the first to demonstrate the efficacy of a specific drug in the treatment of West syndrome and supports the results of previously published open and prospective trials. It further confirms that VGB could be considered as the drug of first choice in treating infantile spasms.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Placebos
  • Recurrence
  • Spasms, Infantile / diagnosis
  • Spasms, Infantile / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vigabatrin / therapeutic use*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Placebos
  • Vigabatrin