Pernicious Anaemia Society
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Romberg's sign - ring a bell?

This can be a sign of B12 deficiency - anyone had it? It came up when I was reading A Tufan et all, Chyild Adolescen phsyc 2012.6.25 on an adolescent with mixed psychotic features due to B12 deficiency.

I rushed round to my son and got him to shut his eyes while he stood with his feet together. Sure enough, he began to sway and rock - sensory ataxia.

Not proof, of course, but with everything else, a useful pointer.

Has anyone else had this? In this report, it resolved really quickly with B12.

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Can't say for sure but I know that just before I gave up on doctor and started treating myself I was having huge problems with understanding where my body was ... or at least feeling I understood what it was. I had to feel to make sure that the chair was behind me when trying to sit down. GP did some neuro tests and I can remember standing there and really struggling with the idea of walking on the spot whilst my eyes were closed - felt like it took me an age to do it and most of it was based on extrapolating consciously where things are and having to visualise everything as if my eyes were open.

I had certainly had problems with balance with my eyes closed ... but also true that I had had a broken ankle so that might have contributed to things. At the time I was also suffering with depression and anxiety and experiencing increasingly distressing psychotic episodes in the sense that if I was around a lot of people who were talking it just felt as if everyone was shouting ... and I couldn't cope with all the motion and could only get through it by using some mindfulness techniques.

I have no idea if I was swaying when the GP did the neuro tests ... had my eyes closed at the time :) but may not have been that noticeable as he was just convinced that he should be throwing anti-depressants at me.

All of the symptoms above were ones that went away quite quickly when I started treating myself with a nasal spray at high doses.


Hi Aspmama, as someone who has practised Yoga for many years, problems with holding postures and maintaining balances was something I experienced. It wasn't until my low B12 was diagnosed and I began injections that things started to improve. MariLiz


Hi yes I had this as tested by a doctor. I also experienced a sensation of falling back when showering when eyes were closed whilst washing my hair. One doctor also described my gait as ataxic. This all settled within 8 weeks of alternate day injections. The neurologist ignored all of this and said it was a coincidence!


Thanks so much all of you for responding. Gambit62, my son is having many of these problems.

Here are the symptoms the boy was experiencing in this case, and they seem directly attributable to B12 def - it might be useful to someone with an adolescent. Note that his symptoms were due to non-immune gastritis provoked by h-pylori, so he had them for a short time, they might be different if the B12 probs had existed since birth.

- irritability (I think this would be anxiety related.)

- apathy

- crying (sadness, inability to cope)

- school refusal

- cog wheel rigidity in left elbow (also a sign of Parkinsons)

- bilateral problems with co ordination

- reduced swinging of the arms

- expressionless face (masked face - also appears in Parkinsons)

- Romberg's sign

- Atrophy of the gastic mucosa (this is a cause rather than a symptom)

- separation anxiety

- forgetfulness

- poor concentration

- distractibility

- reduced sleep

- reduced appetite

- reduced speech

- isolation from peers

- sat in front of computer more than before

- ran up excessive debts on games

- reduced working and short term memory

- auditory, olfactory and visual hallucinations - hearing knocking and ringing, smelling burnt rubber, seeing a white man like shape

- passive suicidal thoughts

- impaired judgement

- delusions of guilt

- delusion that people were talking about him and his thoughts were being broadcast to others

- glossitis

- ataxia

Thank heaven he came under the care of Dr Tufan, because I think in the UK he would be being treated for schizophrenia with heavy drugs. As it was, they gave him B12 injections and all his delusions vanished, along with Romberg's sign - in a week !!!!!!!!

He had no anemia.

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The neuropsychiatric effects of B12 were first identified accidentally when a doctor, faced with a young patient with severe psychosis refused to take any medication but would agree to take vitamins. The doctors plan was to replace the vitamins with anti-psychotics once trust had been built up (not too sure about the ethics of that myself but ...). The vitamin he chose was B12 - probaly because it doesn't have any side-effects unlike many others - and was really astonished when the patient actually got better before he had time to put his cunning plan into execution.

Psychiatric profession is improving in its awareness of B12 - at least memory clinics are now recommending B12 is checked if people are suffering from mild cognitive impairment - but as always the change is very slow ... certainly not fast enough to prevent a lot of very unnecessary suffering.

I've never had any anaemia either!

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