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Brain Tumor Symptoms in Toddlers

By Rae Uddin ; Updated August 14, 2017

Each year, approximately 2,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor, according to medical professionals at the Mayo Clinic. Brain tumors develop when cells within the brain begin to grow uncontrollably. A parent or caregiver who notices brain tumor symptoms in their toddler should contact a pediatrician to ensure receipt of appropriate care.


One of the most common symptoms of brain tumors in toddlers is a headache. When unusual cells begin to grow within the brain, they can increase the normal levels of fluid within this body region. As a result, toddlers can develop excess pressure around or within the brain. If this occurs, a toddler with a brain tumor can experience frequent, severe headaches. Headache symptoms associated with a brain tumor are typically worse when a toddler wakes up in the morning. A parent or caregiver may notice that it’s unusually difficult to get their toddler out of bed in the morning. He may frequently complain that he doesn’t feel well or that his head hurts. Persistent or severe headache symptoms in toddlers should be discussed with a medical professional as soon as possible.

Nausea or Vomiting

Painful headache symptoms resulting from a brain tumor can cause affected toddlers to experience stomach upset symptoms. A toddler may feel nauseous or begin to vomit. In certain cases, a toddler can vomit immediately upon waking in the morning and may tell her parent or caregiver that she feels better after getting sick, explains the American Brain Tumor Association. Stomach-upset symptoms can cause affected toddlers to be uninterested in eating their favorite snack or meal due to a decreased appetite. These brain tumor symptoms in toddlers can be signs of alternate medical problems and should be promptly discussed with a physician.

Personality Changes

A brain tumor can increase pressure in the brain, which may lead to brain damage. If this occurs, a brain tumor can alter a toddler’s normal disposition. Affected toddlers may appear unusually irritable or depressed and may exhibit significant personality changes as symptoms of a brain tumor, explains the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. A parent or caregiver may notice that their normally boisterous toddler suddenly becomes quiet, shy or reserved. Toddlers who develop significant personality or mood changes for any reason should receive additional care from a doctor.

Speech or Vision Problems

A toddler with a brain tumor can develop speech or vision problems as a symptom of this disease. Affected toddlers can begin to slur their words, or may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Vision problems, such as blurred or cloudy vision, can also arise in toddlers with a brain tumor. Blurred vision may exacerbate headache symptoms in certain toddlers, and may result in additional symptoms, such as dizziness or confusion. If a toddler experiences sudden or unusual speech or vision changes, immediate medical consultation is needed.

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