White Matter Disease

Written by Dr. Mary

What is White matter disease?

White matter disease is a rare condition that involves the brain and its development. In most noted cases, this affects the child or baby’s ability to develop. This condition’s origin is unknown and places a lot of unanswered questions from the public.


Periventricular white matter disease

This condition is also referred as periventricular leukomalacia that is a form of white-matter brain lesion or disease. This form of white matter disease is due to the necrosis of white matter near the brain’s lateral ventricles. Those affected of this condition are mostly newborns and less commonly the fetuses. Those who were born premature are noted and reported to be commonly affected with periventricular white matter disease.

Vanishing white matter disease

Vanishing white matter disease is also known as the condition childhood ataxia. It has also been reported as the most common type of inherited childhood leucoencephalopathy. This involves the central nervous system hypomyelination which is a chronic white matter disease. This condition is aggravated by an infection or usually by head trauma. The VWM disease is believed to be autosomal recessive in origin, meaning that this is acquired by a child from a parent. According to data recorded the disease results to neurological deterioration and even inexplicable coma.

Chronic white matter disease

The condition shall be identified as chronic white matter disease if and only if the condition involves a recurrent or has been concurrently present for a long period of time. The disorder is commonly associated with the conditions such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), atherosclerosis, and hypertension. Because the condition is chronic, the damage can be graver and that can even provide great risk to the affected party.

Severe white matter disease

Severe white matter disease exhibits more extensive manifestations of brain damage and injury. There are more frequent episodes of the symptoms and most especially more loss of function and incapacitation.

White Matter Disease Symptoms

Those affected of this condition, generally presents these symptoms:

  • Motor problems and developmental delays. These are noted and are one of the earliest sign for the condition. The leg movements of the infant are clearly delayed and can be detected as early as the infant is one month old. As they start to grow, they become unable to take part or assume the positions ideal for sleeping, playing and even during feeding.
  • Visual problems. It is reported that a child with white matter disease shall develop visual deficits. This is connected with the motor problems, for the eye movements and control is somehow delayed or altered in the process. One shall notice that the child has developed nystagmus (where there is involuntary eye movement), strabismus (known as squinted eye), and refractive error (reduce visual acuity).
  • Cerebral palsy. Because of this, the child is prone to seizures.

White Matter Disease Causes

The condition is caused by several factors and is also triggered by some. Here are the following causes of white matter disease:

  • Prematurity. This can predispose a very low birth weight that would aggravate also developmental delay and growth. Those infants born less than 3.3 pounds are mostly affected of this condition.
  • Injury. When injury is inflicted with the involvement of the white matter, there shall be an impeded or restricted door for blood circulation and oxygen flow. As the region of the brain has this restriction, damage shall take place and shall greatly affect the adjacent structures of the white matter. This can also stimulate inflammatory response that causes for the own body system to fight inconclusively.
  • Decreased oxygenation. When there is hypoxia or decreased oxygen flow, a person may have an altered growth process of the significant brain structures. As this happens, there shall be fewer nutrients to the brain and blood vessels, which is very essential in the process of growth.

White Matter Disease Diagnosis

The condition can be diagnosed through a physical examination. The doctor shall evaluate the infants’ developmental status and its achievements in milestones. Typically, the doctor shall test the child for his or her suckling reflex in order to have a foundation of the diagnosis. Another examination includes the use of sonography or an ultrasound immediately after birth to check for brain involvement or damage.

White matter disease MRI

The MRI result of the infant or child with white matter disease would come up with a reliable source for the final diagnosis. This is because of the fact that the abnormalities of white matter in the brain are most visible with MRI. It shall appear in the result, depending of the type or white matter disease, shall provide the hallmark characteristic shape, size and pattern of the involved structures.

White Matter Disease Treatment

The treatment for white matter disease is not directed to the root of the disease instead it shall provide treatment on the current manifestations of the infant or child. As what the child is currently suffering from, then the focus of the treatment shall take place there. If there are developmental delays, assistance is best provided for the client. They shall require more attention as possible.

Currently, some researches are being rendered in order to provide a promising cure and preventive treatment.

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