Dandy-Walker Malformation

What is Dandy-Walker Malformation?

Dandy-Walker Malformation is a rare congenital brain malformation in children that involves the cerebellum.

The cerebellum is part of the brain responsible for motor coordination and balance. It affects the growth and development of the cerebellum. It results in an abnormally large head size, hydrocephalus (buildup of fluid in the brain), developmental delays, and other neurological symptoms.

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What Causes Dandy-Walker Malformation?

Abnormality of the brain results in hydrocephalus and malformations of parts of the brain. Genetic mutations or environmental factors during fetal development can cause the condition, such as:

  • Viral Infections
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Drug Use

Signs & Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of Dandy-Walker malformation include:

  • Enlarged head circumference
  • A bulge on the back of the skill (known as a "mound")
  • Ridge at the back of the head
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Seizures
  • Developmental delays in motor skills
  • Intellectual disability
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision impairments
  • Blindness

A mom holding her newborn baby girlRisk Factors

Several risk factors are linked to the development of Dandy-Walker malformation in children. These include:

  • Genetic factors: A family history of disorder that involves the central nervous system.
  • Maternal health during pregnancy: Illnesses such as German measles, diabetes, and lupus can increase the risk for Dandy-Walker malformation.
  • Infections during pregnancy: Infections in the mother, such as rubella or toxoplasmosis.
  • Exposure to certain medications or toxins: Exposure to medications such as anticonvulsants and alcohol.
  • Prematurity: Babies born prematurely can develop this condition


A healthcare professional diagnoses based on a physical examination and imaging tests.

Magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scans of the brain can demonstrate the fourth ventricle's cystic dilation and the cerebellar vermis's absence.

Ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis.


Treatments depend on the individual case. A shunt reduces pressure in the brain and releases excess fluid.

Physical therapy helps with motor and cognitive development. Medications can control seizures.

Surgery to correct anatomical issues and nutritional support.

CHRISTUS Children's - The Fetal Care Center

When the unexpected fetal anomaly occurs, the Fetal Care Center at CHRISTUS Children's connects pediatric specialists to pregnant women and their families, regardless of where they plan to deliver their baby.

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