West Syndrome Prognosis

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

The effective treatment of West syndrome still poses a great challenge in pediatric neurology. In the overall long-term view, the majority of patients with this syndrome suffer a poor outcome due to chronic epilepsy, mental retardation, and other neurodevelopmental shortcomings.

Image Credit: SewCream / Shutterstock.com

However, the prognosis for each West syndrome case is greatly dependent on the underlying etiology of the seizures. Therefore, each case of symptomatic, cryptogenic, and idiopathic West syndrome must be considered on an individual basis. For example, while 28-50% of infants with idiopathic West syndrome will have normal or near-normal cognitive development, this value is significantly reduced to 14% in those suffering from symptomatic West syndrome.

Complications of West syndrome

Clinical spasms very rarely persist in adulthood. In fact, these spasms, as well as the typical electroencephalogram (EEG) pattern of West syndrome, spontaneously disappear by 3 to 4 years of age. However, up to 50-70% of children diagnosed with infantile spasms will develop other types of seizures.

In addition, mental retardation, which is usually of a profound nature, also occurs in 70-90% of patients in the future, accompanied by psychiatric problems. Even though epileptic spasms usually reduce in number by mid-childhood, 18-50% of children will develop Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or some other form of symptomatic generalized epilepsy.

Little Lulu’s 'West Syndrome' Battle | Studio 10

For an unknown reason, West syndrome occurs in 1-5% of children with Down's syndrome who may also have a more positive prognosis. In fact, these individuals are less likely to develop Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or other forms of epilepsy. On the other hand, if their seizures are difficult to control, the child is at risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder.

Treatment options

However, the early detection and prompt administration of effective treatment have been shown to improve the resultant neurodevelopmental outcomes, such as severe-to-profound retardation. Currently, approximately half of all children with West syndrome become entirely free of the attacks with the aid of medication. Notably, the number of children who would benefit from these treatments would be an even higher value if the optimal regimen for treatment was known.

Early pharmacological action would be particularly beneficial for idiopathic cases where, in general, children have the most promising prognosis. In fact, 28-50% of children with idiopathic West syndrome have normal or borderline-normal cognitive development following diagnosis, which is comparable to only 14% of children with symptomatic West syndrome.

In addition to underlying etiology, treatment is also known to influence the outcome a patient faces later in life. For example, a good prognosis might be expected if the age of symptom onset is older than 4 months, there is an absence of EEG abnormalities, spasms are of short duration, or if there is a rapid response to treatment (less than a month) and without recurrence. Therefore, regardless of what the underlying cause is, the aim of treatment is to achieve control of the seizures as soon as possible, particularly if there is a hope for normal intellectual development.


West syndrome is generally not life-threatening but it occurs more often in children with life-threatening conditions. Furthermore, the treatments used for West syndrome can (rarely) cause death. As a result, only 5 out of every 100 children diagnosed with West syndrome will not survive beyond the age of five years.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Afsaneh Khetrapal

Written by

Afsaneh Khetrapal

Afsaneh graduated from Warwick University with a First class honours degree in Biomedical science. During her time here her love for neuroscience and scientific journalism only grew and have now steered her into a career with the journal, Scientific Reports under Springer Nature. Of course, she isn’t always immersed in all things science and literary; her free time involves a lot of oil painting and beach-side walks too.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Khetrapal, Afsaneh. (2022, December 21). West Syndrome Prognosis. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 30, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/West-Syndrome-Prognosis.aspx.

  • MLA

    Khetrapal, Afsaneh. "West Syndrome Prognosis". News-Medical. 30 May 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/West-Syndrome-Prognosis.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Khetrapal, Afsaneh. "West Syndrome Prognosis". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/West-Syndrome-Prognosis.aspx. (accessed May 30, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Khetrapal, Afsaneh. 2022. West Syndrome Prognosis. News-Medical, viewed 30 May 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/West-Syndrome-Prognosis.aspx.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.