Dravet Syndrome: A Review of Current Management

Pediatr Neurol. 2020 Jun:107:28-40. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2020.01.005. Epub 2020 Jan 31.


Dravet syndrome is a debilitating epileptic encephalopathy of childhood with few treatment options available in the United States before 2018. In the modern era, new genetic testing options will allow diagnosis closer to disease onset. Three new medicines-stiripentol, cannabidiol, and fenfluramine-have documented efficacy and safety as adjunctive therapies for treating pharmacoresistant Dravet syndrome. Early diagnosis resulting in earlier treatment with these and other medications may improve prognosis of long-term outcomes, including less severity of cognitive, motor, and behavioral impairments. New rescue medication formulations can now manage acute seizures and help prevent status epilepticus via intranasal, buccal, and intramuscular routes as opposed to rectal administration. Preventing status epilepticus and generalized tonic-clonic seizures could potentially lower the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. With this changing landscape in diagnostic and treatment options comes questions and controversies for the practicing clinician, especially as diagnostic techniques outpace clinical treatment strategies. Critical decision points include when to start treatment, what pharmacotherapy combinations to try first, which rescue medication to recommend, and how to advise parents on controversial topics (e.g., immunizations). Given that most patients require polypharmacy, clinicians must be cognizant of drug-drug interactions between new medicines, existing anti-epileptic drugs, and other medications to manage comorbidities and must have an understanding of available therapeutic drug monitoring strategies and pharmacokinetic parameters. This review places new diagnostic, treatment and acute care options into the modern era and provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing the pediatric epileptologist in this rapidly changing landscape.

Keywords: Clinical management; Diagnosis; Dravet syndrome; SCN1A; Treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Dioxolanes / therapeutic use*
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / drug therapy*
  • Fenfluramine / therapeutic use*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Dioxolanes
  • Cannabidiol
  • Fenfluramine
  • stiripentol