Ataxia (peds)

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This page is for pediatric patients. For adult patients, see: ataxia


  • Any disturbance in coordination of movement
  • Most cases in ED will be acute (<72h), but can also be episodic or chronic
  • Etiology usually benign in previously healthy child
  • Most cases will be postinfectious cerebellitis, drug ingestion, or Guillain Barre

Clinical Features

Differential Diagnosis



  • most postinfectious cerebellitis self limited, resolve within 3 months without sequelae
  • tox ingestion: supportive. social work or DCFS as indicated
  • Guillain Barre admit for IVIG, observation of respiratory status
  • Meningitis/Encephalitis admit, IV antibiotic, see meningitis section
  • intracranial mass: neurosurgery consultation


  • consider discharge home mildly symptomatic, well appearing child with history and exam consistent with postinfectious cerebellitis with excellent follow-up (give injury prevention precautions)
  • otherwise, admission indicated for further workup, observation

See Also