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Pediatric Polyneuropathy Cognitive Disorders

Children’s Health has nationally recognized specialists who work together to diagnose and manage polyneuropathy cognitive disorders. Your care team will also work together closely to help support your child at home, school and in all other areas of their life.

What are Pediatric Polyneuropathy Cognitive Disorders?

Polyneuropathy cognitive disorders are conditions where children have muscle disorders and learning or thinking disorders. This most often occurs in children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, congenital myotonic dystrophy or Friedreich’s ataxia.

A child with polyneuropathy cognitive disorders may develop differently than other children their age. They may not be able to keep up physically with other toddlers. They also may not be developing language skills or social skills in the same way.

These children may face a range of cognitive challenges, including autism, attention deficits or learning disabilities.

What are the different types of Pediatric Polyneuropathy Cognitive Disorders?

Different types of polyneuropathy cognitive disorders include:

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) typically causes weak muscles. Children with DMD may have trouble walking, and the condition can affect many other muscles, including the heart and the muscles that help us breathe. Symptoms usually get worse over time. DMD mostly occurs in boys.

Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy

This condition typically causes weak muscles and delayed development, including delayed learning. It often is apparent when a child is born.

Friedreich’s Ataxia

This is a very rare, progressive condition that affects a child’s ability to move. Ataxia is the term for a loss of balance or coordination.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Polyneuropathy Cognitive Disorders?

Children with these disorders will experience delays in both movement and intellectual development, including:

  • Learning to crawl and walk
  • Using their hands
  • Starting to talk
  • Developing social skills, such as making eye contact

How are Pediatric Polyneuropathy Cognitive Disorders diagnosed?

Parents concerned about their child may bring them to their pediatrician. This doctor will check to see if they are meeting milestones for gross (physical) motor skills, like walking, or fine motor skills like holding a spoon. They will look at whether the child is learning to talk and making appropriate eye contact. If the pediatrician suspects a polyneuropathy cognitive disorder, they will refer parents to a pediatric neurologist.

The neurologist usually takes a full medical history of the child and family, including the child’s concerns. We do a careful physical exam to identify delays that a child may be experiencing. We use a range of tests to assess their cognitive skills and look for underlying causes. We might use imaging tests to look for a central nervous system disorder. We might take blood samples and run genetic tests or look for metabolic disorders.

What causes Pediatric Polyneuropathy Cognitive Disorders?

These conditions usually are genetic disorders. They may be inherited from a family member, or they may have been caused by a new genetic change (mutation). Genetic tests can help gather more information about the cause.

How are Pediatric Polyneuropathy Cognitive Disorders treated?

Depending on the specific diagnosis, we can work with your child to provide different treatments, including:

  • Speech therapy, to help with speaking, chewing and swallowing.
  • Occupational and physical therapy, to work on range of motion of your child’s joints, strength of their muscles and use of fingers and hands.
  • Behavioral therapy, to work on issues related to feelings and behavior.
  • Medications, if your family thinks they would be useful for your child.

We also can work with your family to be sure that your child’s home and school environments are supporting them in the best ways possible.

Pediatric Polyneuropathy Cognitive Disorders Doctors and Providers

At Children’s Health, your care team will include specialists who can work with your child on every aspect of their care.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will my child ever live a normal life?

    Our goal is to help your child achieve as much independence and happiness as possible. We are committed to caring for your child throughout their first two decades of life.

  • How can we get help for our child at their school?

    Our team is trained in special education for special-needs children, and we work closely with private and public schools to help ensure that each child has what they need in the classroom and the whole learning environment.

  • Can we reach our doctors through telehealth?

    If it is difficult for your family to come to the clinic, we can see you and your child virtually through telehealth for follow-up visits. If your child has had physical changes or other new concerns, or if we have not seen them before, you would need to come in person.