What is Sturge-Weber syndrome?
Sturge-Weber syndrome is a birth defect of small blood vessels.
Sturge-Weber syndrome causes a birthmark on the newborn's face
Most babies also have a blood vessel tumor (angioma) in the tissue covering the brain
Over time, children usually develop worsening eye and brain problems
Treatments can improve the appearance of the birthmark, and medicines can help some eye and brain problems
What causes Sturge-Weber syndrome?
Sturge-Weber syndrome is caused by an abnormal gene Genes and Chromosomes Your genes are the chemical codes that control everything about how your body works, how it's made, and what it looks like. People have over 20,000 different genes. Every cell in your body has... read more . This gene was accidentally damaged when the baby was still in the womb. The abnormal gene isn't inherited from the parents.
Abnormal blood vessels that grow on the face cause a red or purple birthmark. Abnormal blood vessels that grow around the brain can cause brain damage or a stroke Stroke A stroke is a sudden brain problem that happens when a blood vessel in your brain either gets blocked or breaks open and bleeds. As with all organs in the body, the brain needs oxygen and nutrients... read more .
What are the symptoms of Sturge-Weber syndrome?
Babies have a birthmark on their face. The birthmark is usually on one side of the forehead and upper eyelid but may appear anywhere on the face. It's sometimes called a port-wine stain because the color ranges from light pink to deep purple.
In addition to the birthmark, the disorder can cause:
Weakness on one side of the body
Difficulty learning and thinking
Increased pressure in the eye (glaucoma Glaucoma Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes vision loss. It usually happens when pressure from extra fluid within your eyeball damages the nerve in your eye (optic nerve). Vision loss usually happens... read more ) and sometimes the eye bulges out
How do doctors know if my child has Sturge-Weber syndrome?
Doctors suspect Sturge-Weber syndrome in children who have the typical birthmark.
The doctors may order an MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI is a test that uses a machine with a powerful magnet to make pictures of the inside of your body. A computer records changes in the magnetic field around your body. The computer then uses... read more of the brain (a scan showing detailed pictures) to check for blood vessel tumors in the tissues covering the brain.
How do doctors treat Sturge-Weber syndrome?
There's no cure for Sturge-Weber syndrome. Doctors treat the symptoms:
Medicines or surgery to control the seizures
Medicines or surgery for glaucoma
Aspirin in low doses to reduce the chance of a stroke
Laser treatment to lighten or remove the birthmark if desired
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