Medications for Treating Attention Deficits in Individuals with Sturge-Weber Syndrome

OCTOBER 17, 2014

Question: Are medications effective for the treatment of attention issues in individuals with Sturge-Weber syndrome?

Response: They can be. Recently, our center published a study summarizing our experience with 12 patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome and attention deficits who were treated with stimulants (Lance, Lanier, Zabel and Comi, Pediatric Neurology 2014). Eleven out of the 12 patients reported improvement, and 7 out of the 12 remained on medication long-term for the treatment of their attention difficulties. The most common side effects were decrease appetite and headaches. These side effects were mostly minor, and the treatment was usually well tolerated.

The first step in learning anything is paying attention. If focus and attention are an issue, then learning is going to be a challenge. There are behavioral approaches and accommodations at school, work and home that can be used to get around attention issues. However, sometimes these efforts are not enough. In these cases, medication which treats attention deficit can help the affected individual to perform at their intellectual capacity.

Stimulants and other medications for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are not for every individual with Sturge-Weber syndrome. Individuals must be properly evaluated to determine their diagnosis and whether treatment is right for them. My approach has been to start at a low dose and work up gradually. Our experience supports the use of medication to treat appropriately evaluated patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome and ADD.

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