Some symptoms of cerebellar atrophy in children include developmental delays, seizures and ophthalmoplegia, according to the National Institutes of Health. Ophthalmoplegia is a disorder where the eyes of the muscles are paralyzed or weak, says Healthline.
This eye disorder is a symptom of Kearns-Sayre syndrome, according to the National Organization of Rare Disorders. The eye muscles are not just weak but there is a buildup of pigment on the lining of the eyes, which causes them to be inflamed. Some structures of the eye also deteriorate. Other sets of muscles also suffer weakness, such as those that aid in speaking or swallowing. Other symptoms of Kearns-Sayre syndrome are cardiomyopathy, deafness and ataxia. Ataxia means the child has problems controlling and coordinating her voluntary muscles.
Many types of cerebellar atrophy are inherited, claims Mayo Clinic. These children were born with a defective gene that makes proteins that cause the nerves in their cerebellum to not function the right way. The problem can be because of a dominant gene inherited from one parent or a recessive gene from both parents. In some types of cerebellar atrophy the ataxia is progressive, while in others it comes and goes. One type, called episodic ataxia, doesn't affect the child's life span, and its symptoms can be eased with medication.