Pediatric neurology deals with the analysis and management of neurological conditions in newborns, infants, children and adolescents. The discipline of child neurology involves Cerebrovascular Disease, Demyelinating Disease, Developmental and Behavioral Problems, Genetic Disorders that affect people in these age groups. The advancements paved way for the pediatric neurologists to deal with conditions that vary considerably, from relatively simple disorders to more complex and infrequent conditions such as metabolic disease or Neurodegenerative Disorders.
If a child has problems that involve the nervous system, a pediatric neurologist has the specialist training and knowledge to judge, diagnose and treat the child. The conditions dealt with by pediatric neurologists vary considerably, from relatively simple disorders such as migraine or cerebral palsy through to more complex and rare conditions such as metabolic disease or neurodegenerative disorders.
Examples of the types of conditions encountered by specialists in this field include:
- Genetic diseases of the nervous system
- Congenital metabolic abnormalities that affect the nervous system
- Congenital birth defects affecting the brain and spinal cord such as spina bifida
- Neurological developmental problems during childhood
- Childhood epilepsy
- Febrile seizures
- Movement disorders such as cerebral palsy
- Progressive neuromuscular conditions such as muscular dystrophy
- Abnormal mental development, speech disabilities and learning disabilities
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Behavioral disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Headaches and migraine
- Hydrocephalus or excess fluid build-up in the brain
- Head injuries and their complications
- Brain tumors
- Hospice and palliative medicine
- Neuromuscular medicine
- Sleep disorders
- Vascular neurology
- Intellectual disability
Pediatric neurologists act as consultants to primary care physicians, who may refer children to the neurologists for specialist care. For children with long-term neurological ailments, the pediatric neurologist provides regular care and consultation.
Child neurologists are found in a variety of medical environments ranging from children’s hospitals through to outpatient practices, university medical centers and private clinics. They combine their understanding of diagnosis and treatment of the nervous system with expertise in childhood disorders and children’s special needs.
Overall, about 40% to 50% of the patients treated in a typical pediatric neurology practice have epilepsy, while 20% have learning difficulties or developmental problems and 20% are suffering from headaches. The remainder are treated for rare or unusual conditions such as metabolic or genetic disease. Many centers are equipped with the specialized facilities and knowledge needed to treat very specific disorders such as rare neurodegenerative conditions, intractable epilepsy or pediatric stroke.
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