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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Periventricular leukomalacia

Other Names for this Disease
  • PVL
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Your Question

I'm 21 and I have periventricular leukomalacia. I was three months premature when I was born and weighed 3 pounds 10.5oz. I've suffered from migraines since I was in elementary school, and they seem to be getting worse. Are my migraines a result or symptom of periventricular leukomalacia?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is periventricular leukomalacia?

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is characterized by the death of the white matter of the brain due to softening of the brain tissue. It can affect fetuses or newborns, and premature babies are at the greatest risk of the disorder. PVL is caused by a lack of oxygen or blood flow to the area around the ventricles of the brain, which results in the death of brain tissue. Although babies with PVL generally have no apparent signs or symptoms of the disorder, they are at risk for motor disorders, delayed mental development, coordination problems, and vision and hearing impairments.[1]
Last updated: 4/29/2008

Can periventricular leukomalacia cause migraines?

Migraines or headaches are not specifically described as a feature of periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). Most sources state that children with PVL can develop neurological and developmental problems.[2] After an extensive search of the information resources available to us, we have been able to locate two case reports of headaches in individuals with PVL. Two different studies of children with recurrent headaches each reported one individual with PVL diagnosed after brain imaging.[3][4]  It is difficult to determine if headaches can be caused by PVL because there are few reported cases. It is important to keep in mind that although there are often symptoms that are documented in case reports, they are based on the specific individuals that are studied and may differ from one affected person to another.
Last updated: 4/29/2008

  • NINDS Periventricular Leukomalacia Information Page . National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). February 7, 2008 ; Accessed 4/29/2008.
  • Zach T, Brown JC. Periventricular leukomalacia. eMedicine Journal Web site. Feb 14, 2008; Accessed 4/29/2008.
  • Alehan FK. Value of neuroimaging in the evaluation of neurologically normal children with recurrent headache [abstract]. J Child Neurol. 2002 Nov;17(11):807-9. Panel.Pubmed_RVDocSum. Accessed April 29, 2008. PMID:12585718. .
  • Schwedt TJ, Guo Y, Rothner AD."Benign" imaging abnormalities in children and adolescents with headache [abstract]. Headache. 2006 Mar;46(3):387-98. pubmed/16618255?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez. Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum. Accessed April 29, 2008. PMID:16618255..