Porencephaly is an extremely rare disorder of the central nervous system in which a cyst or cavity filled with cerebrospinal fluid develops in the brain. It is usually the result of damage from stroke or infection after birth (the more common type), but it can also be caused by abnormal development before birth (which is inherited and less common). Diagnosis is usually made before an infant reaches his or her first birthday. Symptoms of porencephaly include delayed growth and development, spastic hemiplegia (slight or incomplete paralysis), hypotonia (low muscle tone), seizures (often infantile spasms), and macrocephaly (large head) or microcephaly (small head). Children with porencephaly may have poor or absent speech development, epilepsy, hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain), spastic contractures (shrinkage or shortening of the muscles), and mental retardation.
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Last updated May 6, 2010