Behaviour change, particularly lethargy

Behaviour change, particularly lethargy


  • Many babies and young children will show a change in behaviour at times associated with changes in home, nursery circumstances and ill health. Most changes in behaviour will not be caused by brain tumour.
  • Most changes in behaviour will not be persistent (i.e. occur on most days over a period of time) or pervasive (i.e. occurring in multiple environments e.g. home/nursery/holiday).
  • Most children with a change in behaviour associated with a brain tumour will have other symptoms/signs – these should be looked for carefully.

Behaviour changes caused by a brain tumour:

  • are expected to occur persistently – routinely over days or weeks
  • are expected to occur pervasively – across all settings, such as at home, at nursery, at play, on outings or visits away

The most common change in behaviour caused by brain tumours in this age group is lethargy (severe tiredness and reduced energy levels). Signs of lethargy include:

  • reduction in activity levels, and spending more time resting
  • lack of enthusiasm or desire to participate in activities that they had previously enjoyed, across a variety of activities and in different environments
  • becoming tired or fatigued more readily or quickly than they used to
  • falling behind or progressing more slowly at nursery

Feeling Worried?

Are the symptoms exhibited persistent e.g. lasting more than two weeks?


Arrange an appointment with your GP as soon as possible


Request an immediate consultant referral as soon as possible

If the symptoms or signs are sudden onset or severe, either take them to the emergency department or call 999.