Dandy-Walker syndrome is a brain deformity that develops before birth. The deformity occurs in an area in the back of the brain. This area controls movement and cognitive learning. This syndrome can also affect fluid-filled chambers of the brain called ventricles. The ventricles may have an abnormal build-up of fluid.
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It is not clear what causes Dandy-Walker syndrome. There may be a genetic factor.
Dandy-Walker syndrome may be inherited. If a parent has Dandy-Walker syndrome, the child has a higher risk of the condition. There are no other known risk factors.
Symptoms of Dandy-Walker syndrome often occur in infancy. Some may not appear until childhood. Most are found within the first year of life. Symptoms may include: Increased head sizeBulging of the back of the skullImpaired development of normal speech and languageSlow motor developmentIrritabilityHeadacheVomitingUnsteadiness, especially with walkingLack of muscle coordinationJerky eye movementsAbnormal breathingTrouble with vision or hearingJerking movements of the arms and legs or seizures
Children with this syndrome may also have other birth deformities of the brain, heart, face, or limbs.
You will be asked about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images will be taken of your child's brain. This can be done with: CT scanMRI scanUltrasound
Dandy-Walker syndrome cannot be treated. Instead, treatment will focus on managing certain brain abnormalities and symptoms.
The build-up of fluid in the ventricles may need treatment. Extra fluid can cause increased pressure and swelling in the brain. Fluid may be drained by: Shunt—A tube is placed from the brain to the abdomen to allow the extra fluid to drain out of the brain.Ventriculostomy—A connection is made from one ventricle to other areas that contain fluid. It allows extra fluid to drain out of the affected ventricle.
Some children with require physical therapy and educational help.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child.
There is no known way to prevent this syndrome.
Aldinger KA, Lehmann OJ, et al. FOXC1 is required for normal cerebellar development and is a major contributor to chromosome 6p25.3 Dandy-Walker malformation.
Dandy-Walker syndrome. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
Updated December 16, 2011. Accessed February 13, 2014.
Spennato P, et al. Hydrocephalus in Dandy-Walker malformation.
Childs Nerv Syst. 2011;27:1665-1681.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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