Treatment and rehabilitation outcomes of children affected with nodding syndrome in Northern Uganda: a descriptive case series
Introduction: Nodding Syndrome (NS) is a neurological disorder affecting children 5-15 years at onset in East Africa. A major criterion for diagnosis is atonic seizure with dorso-ventral "nodding" of the head. Comorbidities include psychological and behavioral abnormalities, malnutrition, cognitive decline, school dropout and other seizure types. We aimed to describe the presentations and rehabilitation outcomes of NS children at Hope for HumaNs (HfH) centre in Gulu from September 2012 to October 2013. Methods: Data was obtained from a retrospective review of 32 NS children's medical records at HfH center. Ethical approval was obtained from Gulu University IRB. Data analysis was conducted using WHO AnthroPlus, SPSS and Excel software. Results: Growth statistics showed steady improvement over time using local nutrition and multivitamin supplementation. Severe and moderate stunting was reduced from a combined total of 54.8% to 7.7% and 12.8% respectively. Severe and moderate wasting was reduced from 29.1% to 2.6% and 5.1% respectively. Three groups of NS children were identified and compared in the review; Low seizure occurrence averaging <2 seizures/month (28.1%); Moderate averaging 2-4 seizures/month (34.4%) and High averaging >4 seizures/month (37.5%). Conclusion: NS is a neurological disorder of unknown etiology. Treatment with regular high quality local nutrition, multivitamin supplementation, anti-seizures, regular follow up and illness prevention; children's seizures can be reduced or stopped completely. The debilitating malnutrition and stunting of NS children in Uganda could be partially independent of the syndrome but attributable to poor nutrition. NS as observed is not "invariably fatal" but rather a treatable neurological disorder.