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What Is Infant Shudder Syndrome? What Are The Causes?


What Is Infant Shudder Syndrome

Caring for infants can be challenging, especially for new parents. Infants are delicate and tender beings who require a lot of love and attention. 

The early stages of life are pretty unpredictable for parents. It is a stage where they need to keep monitoring the child constantly.

During the early stages of an infant’s life, they may be susceptible to some ailments. These ailments can be managed and cured if they are detected early enough. It is part of the reason why infants need regularly scheduled medical checkups.

You should not be worried but cautious with your child’s health at the onset of its birth.

Infant shuddering syndrome is an uncommon condition in infants, generally after a strenuous delivery.

So, what is infant shudder syndrome?

Infant shudder syndrome or uncommon benign disorder is periodically shivering in the head and chest area without experiencing syncope. The condition rarely occurs, but in the cases where it is recorded, it is linked with a difficult delivery process. Suppose you believe your child has been affected by infant shudder syndrome due to medical negligence. In that case, you should meet with a lawyer experienced in medical malpractice claims to discuss your legal options.

What Causes Infant Shudder Syndrome?

Now that we know what infant shudder syndrome is, what are its causes?

While the triggers for infant shudder are not particular to a given action, they occur due to the brainstem release phenomenon. 

What is the brainstem release phenomenon? The brainstem phenomenon occurs as a result of cortical inhibition.

Symptoms Of Infant Shudder Syndrome

Infant shudder syndrome is characterized by shivering in the head and chest area. The shudder happens several times in the cause of the day and even in the infant’s sleep. The tremors that occur in the sleep result from Benign neonatal sleep.

When the infant is experiencing Benign neonatal sleep, it usually experiences involuntary and quick muscular spasms. The muscle spasms last for seconds at a time before abating.

How does the condition differ from epileptic attacks? Unlike epileptic attacks, infant shudder syndrome lacks a specified trigger, for example, exposure to flashing lights. The condition also stops when the child is gently awoken or aroused.

Parents should seek a proper diagnosis, as infant shudder syndrome is commonly thought to be a seizure. 

Seizures are, by far, a more serious condition when compared to infant shudder syndrome. Infant shudder syndrome is a temporary condition that, in most cases, stops when the child turns three.

Managing And Care For Infant Shudder Syndrome

Managing infant shudder syndrome can lead to reduced occurrences of the condition. The condition will not entirely disappear, but the attacks will become fewer and far between. Here is what to do to reduce shuddering in infants:

1. Ensure that the baby has enough rest

Fatigue can often result in the baby being stressed and fussy. Being in a state of fatigue can increase the chances that the baby will experience such involuntary muscle spasms. Ensure, therefore, that the child gets enough rest each day.

2. Keep the child warm

Exposure to the cold is unsuitable for a child suffering from infant shudder syndrome. You must ensure that the child is warm at all times. Being exposed to the cold can worsen the shiver attacks, and they may even last longer.

3. Reassurance

Try as much as possible to keep your infant calm. An unsettled or overstimulated infant is more likely to experience a shudder attack. Ensure that your child is settled and calm at all times. Fear can also trigger shuddering.

4. Feeding and dieting

When the infant’s blood glucose levels drop below a certain point, they are more likely to experience shudder attacks. Ensure, therefore, that you keep your child’s blood sugar at the proper levels by feeding them appropriately.

5. Stress limitation

Removing the causes of stress can play a massive part in reducing the number of attacks. Fear is often linked to an increase in shudder attacks in babies.

Seizures In Infants

Infant shudder syndrome is commonly misdiagnosed as seizures. The two conditions differ in severity and causes.

The tremors are also quite different.

How Does Shudder Syndrome Differ From Seizures?

1. Triggers

Unlike shudder syndrome, seizures usually have a particular trigger. It may be in the form of light sensitivity. On the other hand, Shuddering tends to occur randomly without particular triggers.

2. Tremors

Shudder syndrome is characterized by shivering in the head and abdomen area. Seizures, on the other hand, is characterized by spasms in the entire body, including the limbs,

3. Loss of consciousness

A child suffering from seizures will often lose consciousness during the attacks. For shudder syndrome, the child maintains consciousness when the shivering occurs.

4. Remission

In most patients, shudder syndrome is usually gone between three and seven. Seizures may continue well into adulthood.

Symptoms Of Seizures

How would you know that your child is suffering from seizures? There are common symptoms associated with seizures. If you notice any of the symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

1. Tremors

Suffering from seizures causes tremors throughout the infant’s body, including the hands and the feet. These muscular spasms do not step when the infant is aroused and last for minutes at a time.

2. Loss of consciousness 

Seizures cause a loss of consciousness when they occur. It is also one of the main distinguishing characteristics of an infant shudder.

3. Unresponsive staring

Unresponsive staring usually occurs at the onset of an epileptic attack. A lot of confusion and disorientation usually characterizes it.

Causes Of Seizures

The seizures can induce seizures in several ways. The causative agents for seizures are commonly referred to as triggers. So, what are the common epileptic triggers?

1. Lack of sleep

Sleep deprivation is a common cause of epileptic triggers in adults and children.

2. Hyponatremia

It is a condition characterized by low blood sodium. Hyponatremia can be corrected through proper dieting.

3. Strokes

Seizures commonly follow strokes. It occurs as a result of hemorrhaging in the brain.

4. Brain and neural damage

It is the leading cause of seizures. Surgery may correct brain damage. It can medically manage the condition to remission in some cases. 

Treatment For Seizures

How can seizures be treated in children? There are several ways to treat and manage epileptic attacks in children. It is mainly done in the following ways:

1. Medication

The pediatrician will prescribe for your infant the appropriate Anti-Epileptic Drug. You must follow the prescription to the letter. Be sure to inform the doctor of any side effects.

2. Ketogenic diet

the ketogenic diet has been known to eliminate seizures in some children while reducing attacks in the rest. Your doctor will prescribe the proper keto-based diet.

3. Avoid triggers

Be sure to avoid the things that trigger epilepsy in your child. Do not expose your child to flashing lights and other potential triggers.

4. Consistent checkups

The pediatrician may require that you take your child to the hospital for regular monitoring of the condition. 

West Syndrome

 West syndrome, also referred to as infantile spasms, is a neurally linked illness in newborn children. It is an extreme form of epilepsy characterized by hypsarrhythmia, slow brain development, and infantile spasms.

West syndrome is a severe illness with a statistically high mortality rate. In recorded cases, 20% of the patients die before the age of five, and 61% die by ten. After the age of 10, the survival rate is typically higher.

These children suffer from cognitive impairment and require much attention and monitoring, especially in the early stages of life.

How Is West Syndrome Treated?

Though west syndrome has a high mortality rate, treatment steps can help manage the condition.

These include:

1. A ketogenic diet:

A ketogenic diet can help manage the condition by reducing the severity of epileptic seizures. In some cases, keto has been known to reduce the attacks altogether.

2. Surgery:

Surgery is only appropriate if it is established that a lesion has caused the condition in the brain. If successful, the infant might go into remission, or the condition might improve rapidly. Improvement is not guaranteed. 

4. Anti-seizure medication:

Anti-seizure medication will help in reducing the number of epileptic attacks. It will also help reduce the severity of the attacks. These medications are effective only if they are taken as prescribed.

5. Use of steroids:

Steroids containing the hormone ACTH may help regulate and mitigate epileptic attacks. The hormone administration is through injection into the child’s muscles. In some cases, the hormone administration is oral.


Infant shudder syndrome or uncommon benign disorder is a rare ailment that ordinarily occurs after a complicated birthing. The symptoms appear similar to an actual seizure, but a loss of consciousness never accompanies the condition. 

Parents must learn to distinguish between seizures and shuddering. Seizures require greater medical attention than shudder syndrome. 

The condition’s cause is believed to be related to a neural anomaly. The condition diminishes typically when the child is between three and seven, sometimes even sooner.

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