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January 8, 2002

Other Illnesses

Question from Elkhart, Indiana, USA:

My eight year old son was diagnosed when he was three years eight months old, and we are presently having him tested for possible learning disabilities along with visual tracking deficits. What is cerebellar vermal atrophy? Why is this associated with diabetes, and subsequently, learning disabilities? It has been mentioned that this may be a piece to my son’s “puzzle”.


From: DTeam Staff

There does seem to be a link between cerebellar vermal atrophy and schizophrenia, but the reports are nearly all in adults and none involve diabetes. However, there is one in a five year old child who also had lactic acidosis. (See Challa VR, Markesbery WR, Baumann RJ, Noonan JA, Lactic acidosis associated with cerebellar vermal atrophy and cardiomyopathy.) As a very long shot, this raises the possibility that your son has a type of diabetes due to a mitochondrial defect called MELAS or Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, Lactic Acidosis Syndrome. So, it just might be worth asking the doctors about getting a rather simple blood test for the lactic acid level. Although, if your son had a positive antibody test at the onset of his diabetes, this would be unnecessary.


[Editor’s comment: See Sandyk R, Kay SR, Merriam AE, Atrophy of the cerebellar vermis: relevance to the symptoms of schizophrenia