Managing Sturge-Weber Symptoms in Puberty

AUGUST 31, 2015

Question: What information is available about Sturge-Weber syndrome and hormonal changes in the teen years? Do seizures often increase and is this related to the hormones? What is recommended?

Answer: Puberty is often a cause of increased seizures in the pre-teen and teenaged years. Migraines and headaches can also increase. The character of seizures may change as well. Worsening of seizures and headaches can occur as the result of hormones because hormones such as testosterone and estrogen act on the brain. Loss of seizure control may also be seen because of rapid changes in height or weight. It is very important to ensure that doses of anticonvulsants and/or aspirin are adjusted for weight gain as the child enters puberty.

Some seizures in puberty occur in young women with their period cycle; this is called catamenial seizures. This kind of seizures often responds to hormonal regulation or to an increase in seizure medication just during that time in the cycle. Discussing this with a gynecologist can be helpful.

Finally, a pre-teen and teenager needs more, not less, sleep than does a child; a fact which most of them seem determined to resist. Lack of sleep is a very common trigger for seizures in patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome so ensuring that the teen with Sturge-Weber syndrome has plenty of sleep can sometimes be helpful.

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