Acute Ataxia in Childhood: 11-Year Experience at a Major Pediatric Neurology Referral Center

Kavita Thakkar*, Stephen M. Maricich, Gulay Alper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We categorized the causes of acute ataxia in the pediatric population - referred to the Division of Neurology - at a large, urban pediatric medical center. Of the 120 cases identified over the past 11 years, post-infectious cerebellar ataxia was the most commonly diagnosed (59%), followed by drug intoxication, opsoclonus-myoclonus ataxia syndrome, episodic ataxia, acute cerebellitis, cerebellar stroke, ADEM, meningitis, cerebral vein thrombosis, Leigh's disease, Miller-Fisher syndrome, and concussion. Among the patients with post-infectious cerebellar ataxia, 85% were 1-6 years old and all had a history of antecedent viral illness. CSF pleocytosis was present in 40% of patients; all had normal brain MRIs. The majority (91%) recovered within 30 days. We conclude that post-infectious cerebellar ataxia remains the most common cause of acute ataxia in childhood and that it carries a good prognosis. We also differentiate acute post-infectious cerebellar ataxia from other causes with similar presentations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1156-1160
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of child neurology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • acute ataxia
  • acute cerebellitis
  • case studies/case series
  • cerebellar ataxia
  • postinfectious cerebellar ataxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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