Defining the Expanding Clinical Spectrum of Pediatric-Onset Stiff Person Syndrome

Anusha K. Yeshokumar, Lisa R. Sun, Scott D. Newsome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: We aimed to characterize the spectrum of clinical features and examination findings in pediatric-onset stiff person syndrome. Methods: Medical records were reviewed for all patients treated for stiff person syndrome with symptom onset in childhood at a tertiary medical center between March 2001 and February 2019. Results: Of the 15 individuals who met inclusion criteria, 11 (73%) were female and 13 (87%) were Caucasian. Median age at symptom onset was 14.8 years (range 8.4 to 16.9), and median latency from symptom onset to diagnosis was 6.2 years (range 0.4 to 15.0). Nine individuals (60%) were not diagnosed until adulthood. The most common presenting features were painful spasms (n = 12, 80%), hyper-reflexia (n = 11, 73%), axial rigidity (n = =9, 60%), lower extremity rigidity or spasticity (n = 8, 53%), gait abnormalities (n = 6, 40%), and hyperlordosis (n = 6, 40%). Other noted features included anxiety (n = 5, 33%), dysautonomia (n = 3, 20%), and cranial neuropathies (n = 3, 20%). Personal (n = 9, 60%) and family history (n = 9, 60%) of autoimmune conditions was common. Serum antiglutamate decarboxylase 65 antibodies were found in 13 individuals (87%). Nearly all individuals received immunotherapy (n = 14, 93%), symptomatic medications (n = 15, 100%), and nonpharmacologic therapies (n = 14, 93%). However, most had persistent physical limitations, particularly impaired walking (n = 7, 47%) and inability to carry out previous activities (n = 14, 93%). Conclusions: There is a wide spectrum of typical and less common features seen in individuals with pediatric-onset stiff person syndrome. Despite symptom onset in childhood, diagnosis is often delayed until adulthood, at which point disability accrual is frequently seen. Early recognition is vital to address symptoms and may potentially limit future disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-15
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Neurology
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Autoimmune
  • Pediatrics
  • Rigidity
  • Spasticity
  • Stiff person syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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