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.

Check back weekly for new posts and up-to-date information from Sturge-Weber syndrome expert Dr. Anne Comi.

Have a topic or question you would like to see addressed with a future Dr. Comi’s Weekly Update?

Enter your topic/question in the Contact Dr. Comi form.

Ask Dr. Comi

Note: These updates are not intended to address individual patient issues. If you have specific patient questions for Dr. Comi, please use the Contact Dr. Comi form and indicate that your question is private in nature.

Read our Archived Updates for more information on past questions and answers.

Want to know more about the exciting research going on at the Kennedy Krieger Institute to discover new therapies for Sturge-Weber syndrome?

Visit our Current Research section.

Help Children with Sturge-Weber Syndrome

Helpk Kids with Sturge-Weber Syndrome

Give to Sturge-Weber Syndrome research and help children enjoy fuller lives through improved diagnosis, care, and education.

Learn More Button

Sturge Weber Fundraising Thermometer

For more information, contact
(443) 923-9569 or (443) 923-9127

Latest Videos

Dr. Comi's Updates

Dr. Comi announces research findings, posts important information, and answers questions of general interest to families living with Sturge-Weber syndrome. 


Tribute to Hunter Nelson

Hunter Nelson
In Memory of
Hunter Andrews Nelson
November 5, 1999 -
May 29, 2005

The dream for a cure lives on...


Read inspiring stories, news and updates about the Institute's patient care, research, special education, professional training, and community programs.