Cerebral Arteriopathies in Children | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of cerebral arteriopathies?

The symptoms of cerebral arteriopathies depend on the specific type of blood vessel abnormality, as well as the particular process affecting the arteries of the brain, but can include severe headaches. If the cerebral arteriopathy causes a blood clot that interrupts blood flow, your child may experience symptoms of an arterial ischemic stroke, such as:

  • weakness on one side of the body
  • difficulty speaking
  • difficulty walking or instability when standing
  • vision loss
  • seizures
  • a change in mental state

Short episodes of weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or a sensation that the room is spinning may mean your child is having a transient ischemic attack, a possible warning sign of stroke that requires immediate evaluation in an emergency room.

However, in inflammatory arteriopathy that affects the brain, a child may also experience:

  •  headache
  • decline in cognitive function
  • change in personality
  • increased sleepiness
  • seizure

What causes cerebral arteriopathies?

About one-quarter of cerebral arteriopathies in children have no known cause. Other types of cerebral arteriopathies, such as moyamoya disease, appear to have a genetic component. Arterial dissection is often the result of an injury or other trauma to a child's head or neck. Finally, inflammation and infection are now being increasingly associated with vascular inflammation in the brain and can lead to stroke in childhood.

Children with sickle cell disease appear to be at higher risk for developing cerebral arteriopathies.