Pediatric neurology or child neurology refers to a specialized branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and management of neurological conditions in neonates (newborns), infants, children and adolescents. The discipline of child neurology encompasses diseases and disorders of the spinal cord, brain, peripheral nervous system, autonomic nervous system, muscles and blood vessels that affect individuals in these age groups.
If a child has problems that involve the nervous system, a pediatric neurologist has the specialist training and knowledge to assess, diagnose and treat the child. The conditions dealt with by pediatric neurologists vary considerably, from relatively simple disorders such as migraine or cerebral palsy through to more complex and rare conditions such as metabolic disease or neurodegenerative disorders.
Examples of the types of conditions encountered by specialists in this field include:
- Genetic diseases of the nervous system
- Congenital metabolic abnormalities that affect the nervous system
- Congenital birth defects affecting the brain and spinal cord such as spina bifida
- Neurological developmental problems during childhood
- Childhood epilepsy
- Febrile seizures
- Movement disorders such as cerebral palsy
- Progressive neuromuscular conditions such as muscular dystrophy
- Abnormal mental development, speech disabilities and learning disabilities
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Behavioral disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Headaches and migraine
- Hydrocephalus or excess fluid build-up in the brain
- Head injuries and their complications
- Brain tumors
- Hospice and palliative medicine
- Neuromuscular medicine
- Sleep disorders
- Vascular neurology
- Intellectual disability
Pediatric neurologists act as consultants to primary care physicians, who may refer children to the neurologists for specialist care. For children with long-term neurological ailments, the pediatric neurologist provides regular care and consultation.