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Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2000;4(3):131-4.

Menkes kinky hair disease: an unusual case.

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Department of Child Health, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK.


Menkes disease is a rare X-linked recessive disease of copper metabolism. Clinical manifestations begin in the first few months of life or even in the neonatal period. Hypothermia, hypotonia, poor weight gain, seizures and neurodevelopmental delay or regression are seen. Outcome is poor, with death occurring usually by 3 years of age. A characteristic facial appearance with steely hair suggest the diagnosis. Neuroimaging usually shows cortical atrophy, extra-axial fluid collections and progressive and extensive degeneration of grey matter with secondary demyelination. We describe an atypical, but biochemically proven case of Menkes disease with atypical clinical and radiological features. Our patient had a large head, atypical electron microscopy appearances of the hair and predominant diffuse white matter involvement on neuroimaging, but a low serum copper level and a high 64CU uptake in fibroblasts (89.5 ng/mg of protein) confirmed the diagnosis.

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