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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Arnold Chiari Type 1

02/01/2007

Question:

Does this malformation cause a child from birth to have disabilities: non verbal, not walking, cannot sit, can`t feed button fed, obstructive sleep apnea, seizures, irritable, hits face and head on one side, scoliosis[has had surgery and this has given sensitivity to feet and nerve pain requiring several medications].

Answer:

An Arnold Chiari malformation, usually called a Chiari malformation is a congenital abnormality of the brain. The cerebellar tonsils (found at the base of the brain) are elongated (stretched out) and pushed down through the opening of the base of the skull (the foramen magnum) which then can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

Babies may show problems with breathing and have difficulties in swallowing. In older children, upper limb weakness and breathing difficulties may occur. However, many people with a Chiari malformation have no symptoms until early adulthood, when severe headaches and neck pain happen. Also they can have fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, visual problems, problems with swallowing, ringing in the ears, problems with fine motor skills, muscle weakness, and palpitations. Finally, some people never have any symptoms or not unless they have some type of severe head trauma.

I cannot say whether or not the types of problems you mention are caused by a Chiari malformation, but they seem to be more severe than what is usually seen with a Chiari malformation. Chiari malformations can be part of other syndromes as well.

I would recommend that you talk to a neurologist who is a specialist in this field to give you more specific information.

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Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University