What Causes Periventricular White Matter Disease?


Quick Answer

Tissue death around brain parts called ventricles causes periventricular white matter disease, also known as periventricular leukomalacia or PVL, reports MedlinePlus. Blood flow changes near the ventricles of a baby in the womb, intraventricular hemorrhage and uterine infection around delivery time may increase risk for PVL. The brain injury occurs much more frequently in sickly and premature babies.

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Full Answer

A decrease in blood flow and oxygen causes brain tissue softening and death in the periventricular area of fetuses and newborns with PVL, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Because ventricles have nerve fibers that send signals to the muscles, babies with PVL are at risk of problems with coordination, slower mental development, sensory impairments and cerebral palsy. Babies may not manifest symptoms of PVL at birth, but doctors can diagnose the disorder using ultrasound.

PVL is incurable, and treatment focuses on managing symptoms and providing support, notes the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Some children may have only mild symptoms, while the impairments and disabilities of others may be much more extreme. Developmental problems often become clear in the baby's first and second years, explains MedlinePlus. Babies may have difficulty moving their limbs and require physical therapy. Regular pediatricians and specialists must closely monitor the conditions of babies with PVL.

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