Proposed guidelines for the management of nodding syndrome

Afr Health Sci. 2013 Jun;13(2):219-32. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v13i2.4.


Nodding Syndrome is a poorly understood neurologic disorder of unknown aetiology that affects children and adolescents in Africa. Recent studies have suggested that the head nods are due to atonic seizures and Nodding Syndrome may be classified as probably symptomatic generalised epilepsy. As part of the Ugandan Ministry of Health clinical management response, a multidisciplinary team developed a manual to guide the training of health workers with knowledge and skills to manage the patients. In the absence of a known cause, it was decided to offer symptomatic care. The objective is to relieve symptoms, offer primary and secondary prevention for disability and rehabilitation to improve function. Initial management focuses on the most urgent needs of the patient and the immediate family until 'stability' is achieved. The most important needs were considered as seizure control, management of behavioural and psychiatric difficulties, nursing care, nutritional and subsequently, physical and cognitive rehabilitation. This paper summarises the processes by which the proposed guidelines were developed and provides an outline of the specific treatments currently being provided for the patients.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Comorbidity
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition
  • Microfilariae
  • Nodding Syndrome / complications
  • Nodding Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Nodding Syndrome / psychology
  • Nodding Syndrome / rehabilitation
  • Population Surveillance
  • Reproductive Health Services
  • Uganda


  • Anticonvulsants