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January 1959

Acute Ataxia of Childhood: A Summary of Fifteen Cases

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Section of Neurology, and the Division of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee, and City of Memphis Hospitals.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1959;97(1):61-65. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1959.02070010063004

Ataxia is a symptom commonly encountered in children. From a therapeutic and prognostic standpoint, ataxia produced by posterior fossa tumors and spinocerebellar degeneration must be differentiated from that which is symptomatic of a more benign self-limited disease. Shanks1 observed that a poor prognosis was usually associated with ataxia of insidious and chronic onset. On the other hand, spontaneous recovery usually occurred in children in whom ataxia had developed acutely. This condition has been referred to as "acute cerebellar ataxia." It is generally a benign disorder, subsiding in a few days or weeks. Adults are only rarely affected. The etiology is often undetermined, but in most cases it is thought to be a cerebellar encephalitis of infectious or toxic origin. The following is a summary of the clinical picture and a discussion of possible etiologies based on reports in the literature and our own observations of 15 cases.

Clinical Picture 

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