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1.

Spongy degeneration of central nervous system

Most individuals with Canavan disease have the neonatal/infantile form. Although such infants appear normal early in life, by age three to five months, hypotonia, head lag, macrocephaly, and developmental delays become apparent. With age, children with neonatal/infantile-onset Canavan disease often become irritable and experience sleep disturbance, seizures, and feeding difficulties. Swallowing deteriorates, and some children require nasogastric feeding or permanent feeding gastrostomies. Joint stiffness increases, so that these children resemble individuals with cerebral palsy. Children with mild/juvenile Canavan disease may have normal or mildly delayed speech or motor development early in life without regression. In spite of developmental delay most of these children can be educated in typical classroom settings and may benefit from speech therapy or tutoring as needed. Most children with mild forms of Canavan disease have normal head size, although macrocephaly, retinitis pigmentosa, and seizures have been reported in a few individuals. [from GeneReviews]

2.

Canavan disease, mild

Canavan disease is a rare inherited disorder that damages the ability of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain to send and receive messages. This disease is one of a group of genetic disorders called leukodystrophies. Leukodystrophies disrupt the growth or maintenance of the myelin sheath, which is the covering that protects nerves and promotes the efficient transmission of nerve impulses.Neonatal/infantile Canavan disease is the most common and most severe form of the condition. Affected infants appear normal for the first few months of life, but by age 3 to 5 months, problems with development become noticeable. These infants usually do not develop motor skills such as turning over, controlling head movement, and sitting without support. Other common features of this condition include weak muscle tone (hypotonia), an unusually large head size (macrocephaly), and irritability. Feeding and swallowing difficulties, seizures, and sleep disturbances may also develop.The mild/juvenile form of Canavan ... disease is less common. Affected individuals have mildly delayed development of speech and motor skills starting in childhood. These delays may be so mild and nonspecific that they are never recognized as being caused by Canavan disease.The life expectancy for people with Canavan disease varies. Most people with the neonatal/infantile form live only into childhood, although some survive into adolescence or beyond. People with the mild/juvenile form do not appear to have a shortened lifespan. [from GHR] more

3.

Leukodystrophy

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. [from NCI]

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