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What is a Chiari malformation?

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Chiari malformations, also known as Arnold-Chiari malformations, are structural defects in the cerebellum, which controls balance, according to WebMD. Although some people with a Chiari malformation have no symptoms, other people experience dizziness, numbness, muscle weakness, headaches and problems with balance and coordination.

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More common in women than in men, the condition affects at least 1 in every 1,000 births, reports WebMD. Chiari malformations usually occur before birth but can develop after birth due to infection, injury or exposure to a toxic substance. There are four types of Chiari malformations. The second type is most commonly seen in children with spina bifida.

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