Post-infectious acute cerebellar ataxia in children

Moshe Nussinovitch, Dario Prais, Benjamin Volovitz, Rivka Shapiro, Jacob Amir

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80 Scopus citations


Acute cerebellar ataxia is a relatively common neurologic disorder among children. Our aim was to characterize the clinical picture, etiology, and prognosis of acute cerebellar ataxia. The medical records of all children with a diagnosis of acute cerebellar ataxia hospitalized in our center and Hasharon Medical Center from 1990 to 2001 were reviewed. The diagnosis of acute cerebellar ataxia was based on the following criteria: acute onset of ataxia with or without nystagmus; absence of known genetic predisposing factors, such as familial degenerative disorders; and absence of drug intoxication, bacterial meningitis, and metabolic disorders. Thirty-nine children were identified; 54% were male; mean age at presentation was 4.8±3.8 years. All patients were observed for at least 1 year. A prodromal febrile illness was noted in 74.4%: varicella, 31%; mumps, 20%; nonspecific viral infection, 15.4%; mycoplasma, 5%; Epstein Barr virus, 3%. Latency from the prodromal illness to the onset of ataxia was 8.8±7.4 days. The most common associated neurologic findings were nystagmus and dysmetria. Full gait recovery took less than 2 weeks on average, and the longest duration of neurologic signs was 24 days (mumps-related). Acute cerebellar ataxia in childhood is a self-limited disease. The recovery was faster than that reported in previous publications and was complete in all children without any neurologic sequelae. Imaging studies are needed only in atypical presentation or if there is no spontaneous improvement after 1 to 2 weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-584
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Pediatrics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


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