Are Age-Related Diseases Getting Younger? 2-Year-Old Girl Diagnosed With Dementia

Among the huge number of diseases, we are used to distinguishing the age-related ones – dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, not to mention a wide range of heart and oncological ailments. Some of them have already become common threats to children. But what about those that affect the brain and nervous system? No matter how terrible it sounds, they are also rapidly becoming younger.

Vicky Cunningham's daughter, Mirryn, was born earlier than expected. Despite this, the baby quickly caught up with her peers and developed normally. When the girl was about 10 months old, her mother began to notice something wrong. Mirryn didn’t attempt to take her hand and didn’t reach for other objects like the rest of the kids. It looked like the girl was losing her motility.

An MRI showed some changes in the development of her brain, but they were insufficient to make doctors concerned. Meanwhile, the girl continued losing her skills until she was diagnosed with Batten disease or childhood dementia at the age of 2. Like an adult with a similar diagnosis, she could just stop breathing at any moment.

Although this disease is quite rare and quite poorly studied, Mirryn’s case isn’t the only one. In 2018, media wrote about Reggie Griffiths, 2, who became the youngest Briton to be diagnosed with a form of childhood dementia (Sanfilippo syndrome). This illness rarely allows people to live up to 20, making them gradually lose memory and skills.

What causes recessive diseases in children and how to recognize them in the early stages?

Dementia occurs in children because of incurable, progressive accumulation diseases, which are characterized by a genetically determined deficiency of lysosomes – the enzymes that are “responsible” for splitting a number of substances at intracellular level. Macromolecules accumulate in the tissues, contributing to the violation of other cellular and biochemical functions.

In addition to the hereditary factor, dementia can be provoked by:

  • heavy metal poisoning;
  • drug intoxication;
  • hypothyroidism (reduced thyroid function);
  • encephalitis;
  • violations of the cervical spine and brain vessels;
  • spinal cord diseases;
  • congenital abnormalities;
  • meningitis;
  • AIDS;
  • traumatic brain injury.

Most of these diseases are incurable, but with timely detection, the child can be given the necessary help and support. The symptoms include:

  • loss of memory and intellectual skills;
  • speech function disorders;
  • mood swings;
  • anxiety, irritability, aggression;
  • coordination disorders;
  • loss of ability to recognize relatives;
  • extreme behavior (for example, unprovoked crying);
  • incontinence;
  • reduced muscle tone.

Raising a child with dementia is a challenge for parents, but some treatments can minimize the probability of the disease in combination with managing behavioral problems and eliminating the irritants that deteriorate the situation. The likelihood of developing diseases of this type is small, but with the symptoms in mind, you can make you and the baby’s life as easy as possible.

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.