Medical Definition of Alternating hemiplegia of childhood

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Alternating hemiplegia of childhood: A rare neurological disorder with frequent temporary episodes of paralysis of one side of the body (hemiplegia) usually beginning before the age of 18 months. The eye movements, face, or limbs can be paralysed on either side of the body, but on only one side at a time. The cause is unknown. Abbreviated AHC. Also known as alternating hemiplegia syndrome.

One form of AHC has a favorable outlook. It occurs primarily at night, when a child awakens, and is apparently related to migraine. These children have no other mental or neurological impairments.

Another form of AHC is more serious and may include mental impairment, balance and gait difficulties, excessive sweating, changes in body temperature, and seizures. Treatment with flunarizine , a calcium channel blocker, may help to reduce the severity and duration of attacks of paralysis.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018