How does ACTH compare to prednisolone in treating infantile spasms?

Shaun A. Hussain, MD
The side effects of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and prednisolone for infantile spasms include suppression of the immune system, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

The side effect that is most worrisome with short courses of therapy, which are typically two to four weeks, is suppression of the immune system. Doctors worry about little infections like an ear infection becoming a big or potentially lethal infection like sepsis (an infection of the blood), meningitis (infection of the brain) or pneumonia (infection of the lung).

High blood pressure and high blood sugar are very much treatable. Even if these side effects were to occur, doctors would use a medication to bring down blood pressure or bring down blood sugar and continue with the course of therapy because the consequences of infantile spasms are so much greater than the consequences of these side effects.

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