• A group of rare genetic neurodegenerative disorders that affect infants and children. These disorders are characterized by metabolic abnormalities in the development of the myelin sheaths in the white matter. Clinical signs and symptoms include developmental delays, mental retardation, dementia, seizures, loss of motor skills, and muscle weakness. Representative examples include metachromatic leukodystrophy, krabbe disease, canavan disease, and alexander disease.
  • Group of diseases affecting the white matter of the brain, especially the cerebral hemispheres, due to defects in the formation and maintenance of myelin in infants and children.
  • The leukodystrophies are rare diseases that affect the cells of the brain. Specifically, the diseases affect the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects nerve cells. Damage to this sheath slows down or blocks messages between the brain and the rest of the body. This leads to problems with
    • movement
    • speaking
    • vision
    • hearing
    • mental and physical development
    most of the leukodystrophies are genetic. They usually appear during infancy or childhood. They can be hard to detect early because children seem healthy at first. However, symptoms gradually get worse over time. There are no cures for any of the leukodystrophies. Medicines, speech therapy and physical therapy might help with symptoms. Researchers are testing bone marrow transplantation as a treatment for some of the leukodystrophies.