Many factors can lead to nontraumatic brain injuries, including:
Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs)
Already present at birth, AVMs are abnormal connections between arteries and veins. In some cases, AVMs bleed. Bleeding injures the brain and is considered a form of stroke. Depending on where the bleeding occurs, children can experience problems with speech, arm and leg control, understanding and learning.
Removing a tumor in the part of the brain that includes the cerebellum and brain stem (known as the posterior fossa) causes an acquired brain injury and a condition called posterior fossa syndrome.
Symptoms of posterior fossa syndrome include:
- Inability to speak.
- Speech that is difficult to understand.
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing.
- Trouble moving arms and legs.
If the nerves of the face and neck are involved, children can have trouble making facial expressions or opening and closing their eyes. They might also struggle to control their emotions.
Encephalopathy is a brain injury that happens when other functions of the body get disrupted by factors such as:
- Illnesses involving the liver or pancreas, such as diabetes.
- Disruptions to the heart that affect how well oxygen travels to the brain (anoxia).
- Severe dehydration.
- Water accumulating too quickly in the body.
- Environmental toxins, such as lead paint.
- Consuming substances such as prescription medicines, alcohol and other drugs.
Epilepsy and Seizures
Children who have epilepsy and a history of seizures are at risk for:
- Traumatic brain injury from a blow to the head.
- Brain injury from loss or lack of oxygen due to drowning or choking.
- Nontraumatic brain injuries from long-lasting seizures.
Infections can cause swelling that damages brain cells. Two common types of infections are encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord).
Both types of encephalitis are usually caused by a virus or bacteria. Depending on the location of the injury, encephalitis can cause a variety of problems, including:
Childhood strokes might result from:
- Brain malformations.
- Infections (such as encephalitis or meningitis).
- Blood disorders.
Depending on the cause and location of the stroke, children might have trouble with speech and movement on one half of the body. Communication can be severely affected if the stroke occurs in the left side of the brain. If bleeding is severe, children might experience epilepsy and significant cognitive challenges.