Purpose: To evaluate the outcome of children with cryptogenic infantile spasms treated with high-dose synthetic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and the relation between early treatment, within 1 month of onset, and outcome.
Methods: We assessed the long-term cognitive and seizure outcomes of 37 patients with cryptogenic infantile spasms (onset, age 3 to 9 months) receiving standardized treatment regimen of high-dose tetracosactide depot, 1 mg IM every 48 h for 2 weeks, with a subsequent 8- to 10-week slow taper and followed by oral prednisone, 10 mg/day for a month, with a subsequent slow taper for 5 months or until the infant reached the age of 1 year, whichever came later. Development was assessed before treatment. Seizure outcomes were followed up prospectively. Cognitive outcomes were determined after 6 to 21 years and analyzed in relation to treatment lag and pretreatment regression.
Results: Twenty-two infants were treated within 1 month of onset of infantile spasms, and 15 after 1 to 6.5 months. Normal cognitive outcome was found in all 22 (100%) patients of the early-treatment group, and in 40% of the late-treatment group. Normal cognitive outcome was found in all 25 (100%) patients who had no or only mild mental deterioration at presentation, including four in the late-treatment group but in only three of the 12 patients who had had marked or severe deterioration before treatment.
Conclusions: Early treatment of cryptogenic infantile spasms with a high-dose ACTH protocol is associated with favorable long-term cognitive outcomes. Once major developmental regression lasts for a month or more, the prognosis for normal cognitive outcome is poor. Further studies are needed on the optimal treatment regimen for this disorder.