Neurodevelopmental outcomes in children with cerebellar malformations: a systematic review

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2009 Apr;51(4):256-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03224.x. Epub 2009 Feb 3.


Cerebellar malformations are increasingly diagnosed in the fetal period. Consequently, their consideration requires stressful and often critical decisions from both clinicians and families. This has resulted in an emergent need to understand better the impact of these early life lesions on child development. We performed a comprehensive literature search of studies describing neurodevelopmental outcomes of cerebellar malformations between January 1997 and December 2007. Overall, the data suggested that children with isolated inferior vermis hypoplasia (IVH) and mega cisterna magna (MCM) have a good developmental outcome, whereas children with molar tooth sign/Joubert syndrome, vermis hypoplasia, pontocerebellar hypoplasia (PCH) type II, and cerebellar agenesis experience moderate to severe global developmental delays. Reports for Dandy-Walker malformation (DWM) were conflicting; however, the presence of a normally lobulated vermis and the absence of associated brain anomalies were associated with a more favourable outcome. Finally, children with isolated cerebellar hypoplasia experienced fewer impairments. Important methodological limitations highlighted include a lack of standardized outcome measure use in 79% of studies and the predominant use of retrospective study designs (85%), with 40% limited to case reports or case-series. In summary, rigorous outcome studies describing the spectrum of disabilities in survivors are urgently needed to accurately delineate the long-term neurodevelopmental consequences of cerebellar malformations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellar Diseases / classification
  • Cerebellar Diseases / complications*
  • Cerebellar Diseases / pathology*
  • Cerebellum / abnormalities*
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / complications*
  • Developmental Disabilities / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies