How common are infantile spasms (IS)?

Shaun A. Hussain, MD
Infantile spasms affect approximately 1 in 2,000 births in the United States, and there are about 2,000 new cases each year in the US, which makes this a fairly uncommon disorder. There are about 30,000 general pediatricians in the US, and based on the frequency of infantile spasms, each pediatrician in the US will see 1 new case of infantile spasms about every 15 years. That's about 2 per career.

It’s good that infantile spasms are not more common because it is a scary diagnosis and a severe form of epilepsy, but because of the low numbers the typical pediatrician may not be adequately familiar with this condition and may not recognize it. This delay in diagnosis leads to delay in treatment, and this cumulative delay is bad for outcomes.

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