Movement disorders in childhood

Mered Parnes MD (

Dr. Parnes of Baylor College of Medicine and Director of the Pediatric Movement Disorders Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital received honorariums from Kadmon, PTC Therapeutics, and Teva as an advisory board member.

Joseph Jankovic MD, editor. (

Dr. Jankovic, Director of the Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine, received research and training funding from Allergan, F Hoffmann-La Roche, Medtronic Neuromodulation, Merz, Neurocrine  Biosciences, Nuvelution, Revance, and Teva and consulting/advisory board honorariums from Abide, Lundbeck, Retrophin, Parexel, Teva, and Allergan.

Originally released August 27, 2005; last updated January 21, 2019; expires January 21, 2022


Childhood movement disorders are a diverse group of neurologic conditions manifested by an excess of abnormal or involuntary movements (hyperkinesias), a paucity of movement, or other disorders of motor control (eg, ataxia). Diagnosis and treatment rest on recognition of the primary phenomenology of the movements. The author has categorized the principal childhood movement disorders based on phenomenology. Once phenomenology has been identified, treatment can be initiated and differential etiology can be narrowed. In this article, the most common causes of each category of movement disorders will be expounded. Pediatric movement disorders is a rapidly developing area of medicine with many recent genetic advances and an ever-expanding understanding of clinical phenotypes and pathophysiology of the previously described entities. Advances include identification of the genetic basis, expansion of the known clinical phenotypes of many of the genetic dystonias, choreas, and ataxias, and knowledge about the natural history and treatment of NMDA receptor encephalitis. The scope of this article is to give a general overview of movement disorders affecting the pediatric population. Individual conditions are often discussed in more detail in other MedLink Neurology articles. Relevant review references are also provided.

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