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A morbid tendency to convulsions, and to tonic spasms, such as those observed in tetany, infantile spasms, or spasmus nutans.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a disease affecting young children, caused by calcium-metabolism disturbances and characterized by increased excitability and a tendency toward convulsions. Spasmophilia develops as a result of a deficiency of vitamin D and changes in the function of the parathyroid glands. Children under two years of age are affected.

Spasmophilia may be overt or latent. With the overt form the child may develop laryngospasm—stenosis of the fissure of the glottis, characterized by animal-type sounds produced upon deep breathing, laughter, or crying. There may be spasms of the muscles of the extremities (especially the hands and feet) or of the thoracic respiratory muscles and the smooth bronchial muscles (accompanied by asphyxia). Myocardial spasms that may lead to death also occur with overt spasmophilia, as do general convulsions accompanied by the retraction of the head, the jerking of the extremities, and loss of consciousness. Attacks often occur repeatedly. With latent spasmophilia, spasms do not develop spontaneously. An increase in galvanic and mechanical muscular excitability is detected by special testing methods.

The prognosis for spasmophilia is favorable with timely treatment. The disease is treated with anticonvulsants, injections of large calcium doses, and the same methods used to treat rickets.


Maslov, M. S. Lektsii po fakul’tetskoi pediatrii, part 2. Leningrad, 1960. Page 26.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.