What is the treatment for Prader-Willi Syndrome?

While there is no ‘cure’ for Prader-WIlli Syndrome, early diagnosis and treatment can improve the health and wellbeing of people with PWS. Medical and lifestyle supports are essential to addressing the symptoms of PWS and can include the services of allied health professionals such as dieticians, physiotherapists and psychologists.

Common symptoms associated with PWS

PWS affects people differently. This is why there is no standard set of recommended treatments for people with PWS. Treatment options will depend on the specific challenges and symptoms present in each individual case, however interventions and treatments may address the following common symptoms of PWS:

  • Excess weight and overeating
  • Poor mental health
  • Behavioural issues
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Delayed sexual development

Treatment options for Prader-Willi Syndrome

Weight management

It is common for people with PWS to experience excess weight due to issues regulating hunger. Dietitians can assist in creating nutrient rich meal plans that restrict calorie intake in order to maintain a healthy weight. In addition, weight management options can also include daily exercise to offset the risk of obesity and other physical symptoms associated with PWS in including reduced muscle mass.

Mental health and behavioural treatments

Obsessive-compulsive tendencies, skin picking, and mood disorders are associated with PWS. Psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists can help with addressing poor mental health symptoms that are common with PWS.

Sleep treatments

Sleep apnoea and other sleep disorders are a common symptom of PWS. There are a number of treatments for sleep disorders, depending on the specific symptoms experienced, but common treatments involve lifestyle changes, surgery or the use of sleep apparatuses such as mouth guards.

Growth and sex hormone therapy

To assist with development and growth, an endocrinologist might administer hormone therapy. This may help with developing muscle mass, and primary and secondary sex characteristics.People with PWS are at higher risk of obesity and associated health concerns such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnoea and joint/mobility issues. It is imperative from early on to set clear food guidelines and education around correct types and amounts of food that should be consumed, this includes being inventive with food items deemed as ‘treats’. Exercise plays an important role for people with PWS and introducing it as part of daily routines early on is recommended.