Vitamin B12 deficiency presenting as acute ataxia

BMJ Case Rep. 2013 Mar 26:2013:bcr2013008840. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2013-008840.


A previously healthy 7-year-old Caucasian boy was hospitalised for evaluation of acute ataxia and failure to thrive, initially suspicious for an intracranial mass. Weight and body mass index were below the third percentile and he demonstrated loss of joint position and vibratory sense on examination. Laboratory studies revealed megaloblastic anaemia while an initial MRI of the brain showed no evidence of mass lesions or other abnormalities. A dietary history revealed the child subscribed to a restrictive vegan diet with little to no intake of animal products or other fortified foods. The child was diagnosed with presumed vitamin B12 deficiency and was treated with intramuscular B12 injections. Neurological symptoms resolved promptly within several days after starting therapy. This case underlines the importance of assessing nutritional status in the evaluation of neurological dysfunction in the pediatric patient.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / etiology*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / diagnosis