Evidence-based guideline update: medical treatment of infantile spasms. Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the Practice Committee of the Child Neurology Society

Neurology. 2012 Jun 12;78(24):1974-80. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318259e2cf.


Objective: To update the 2004 American Academy of Neurology/Child Neurology Society practice parameter on treatment of infantile spasms in children.

Methods: MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched from 2002 to 2011 and searches of reference lists of retrieved articles were performed. Sixty-eight articles were selected for detailed review; 26 were included in the analysis. RECOMMENDATIONS were based on a 4-tiered classification scheme combining pre-2002 evidence and more recent evidence.

Results: There is insufficient evidence to determine whether other forms of corticosteroids are as effective as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) for short-term treatment of infantile spasms. However, low-dose ACTH is probably as effective as high-dose ACTH. ACTH is more effective than vigabatrin (VGB) for short-term treatment of children with infantile spasms (excluding those with tuberous sclerosis complex). There is insufficient evidence to show that other agents and combination therapy are effective for short-term treatment of infantile spasms. Short lag time to treatment leads to better long-term developmental outcome. Successful short-term treatment of cryptogenic infantile spasms with ACTH or prednisolone leads to better long-term developmental outcome than treatment with VGB.

Recommendations: Low-dose ACTH should be considered for treatment of infantile spasms. ACTH or VGB may be useful for short-term treatment of infantile spasms, with ACTH considered preferentially over VGB. Hormonal therapy (ACTH or prednisolone) may be considered for use in preference to VGB in infants with cryptogenic infantile spasms, to possibly improve developmental outcome. A shorter lag time to treatment of infantile spasms with either hormonal therapy or VGB possibly improves long-term developmental outcomes.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / administration & dosage
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Spasms, Infantile / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vigabatrin / administration & dosage
  • Vigabatrin / therapeutic use*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Vigabatrin