Dandy Walker Syndrome Life Expectancy

Dandy Walker Syndrome is the name given to a group of malformations of the brain. This congenital syndrome is thankfully very rare (it appears in around one in every 30, 000 live births), but when it does occur it can have a significant impact on life expectancy. Below is a complete overview of Dandy Walker Syndrome: its causes, its symptoms and the way in which it limits the lifespan of those who suffer it.

The key characteristics of Dandy Walker Syndrome

Dandy Walker Syndrome involves the malformation of several parts of the brain. The cerebellum is the main area of the brain that is affected, but other parts are also frequently malformed, including certain important axons. The main result of this malformation is that fluid spaces in the brain are enlarged and pressure within the brain is increased. In its turn, this causes motor and developmental difficulties. Impaired vision, delayed development (for instance, a child with Dandy Walker Syndrome may take much longer to learn how to speak) and difficulty moving and reacting physically to situations are frequently associated with Dandy Walker Syndrome. In addition, a child with Dandy Walker Syndrome may have physical symptoms that can be observed visibly, such as shortened or absent fingers and toes.

Are the symptoms life long or can they be eradicated with treatment?

In the current state of medicine, the above described symptoms of Dandy Walker Syndrome are life long. However, they can be palliated with specialist care. Speech coaches, specialist learning helpers and visual aids are all common ways in which healthcare providers help to make the lives of children with Dandy Walker Syndrome more comfortable. These symptoms can be mild or they can be severe - the extent to which Dandy Walker Syndrome limits the life expectancy of a person, therefore, depends to a large extent on the severity of the symptoms. It also depends on the type of healthcare provided. Because many of the symptoms of Dandy Walker Syndrome are developmental, they often are not observed by parents or healthcare practitioners until the sufferer is in late childhood or (in milder cases) until they have reached their teens. It is possible to detect Dandy Walker Syndrome antenatally, however, and when this is the case, appropriate treatment can be provided from birth.

What is the life expectancy of a Dandy Walker Syndrome sufferer?

If the symptoms of Dandy Walker Syndrome are very severe, then the sufferer will usually have a poor prognosis and may not live into adulthood or even into their teenage years. However, when symptoms are milder and appropriate healthcare is provided, a child with Dandy Walker Syndrome can be expected to live into adulthood. As Dandy Walker Syndrome is primarily a neurological condition, it affects the nervous system and seizures are the most common cause of death in the sufferer. These seizures will usually be preceded by increasing developmental, speech and motor difficulties.