Krabbe disease affects the development and function of the nervous system. There are several types of Krabbe disease that differ based on the age that symptoms begin. The early-onset type of Krabbe disease is the most common and the most severe. Babies who have early-onset (infantile) Krabbe disease typically develop features in the first six months of life. Symptoms of infantile Krabbe disease may include irritability, failure to thrive, slowed development, and unexplained fevers. These are followed by progressive muscle weakness, hearing and vision loss, and decreased movement. Symptoms of the later-onset types of Krabbe disease start in childhood, early adolescence, or adulthood. These may include muscle weakness and stiffness, loss of milestones, blindness, behavior problems, dementia, and seizures. Krabbe disease is considered a fatal disease, and the average survival in the infantile type is 2 years. Krabbe disease is caused by genetic variants in the GALC gene and is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms, clinical exam, imaging studies, and may be confirmed by the results of genetic testing. Krabbe disease can also be diagnosed based on the results of newborn screening. Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms. If the diagnosis is made before symptoms begin, hematopoietic stem cell transplant is an option for treatment.
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