Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic neurological disorder that can affect the brain, spinal cord, nerves and skin.
Tumors, or neurofibromas, grow along the body's nerves or on or underneath the skin. Scientists have classified NF into two distinct types: neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and NF2. NF1, formerly known as von Recklinghausen's NF, is the more common of the types. It occurs in approximately 1 in 4,000 births. NF2, also referred to as bilateral acoustic NF, central NF or vestibular NF, occurs less frequently- 1 in 40,000 births.
Occurences of NF1 and NF2 are present among all racial groups and affect both sexes equally. The tumors arise from changes in the nerve cells and skin cells. Tumors also may press on the body's vital areas as their size increases. NF may lead to developmental abnormalities and/or increased chances of having learning disabilities. Other forms of NF, where the symptoms are not consistent with that of NF1 or NF2, have been observed. A rare form of NF is schwannomatosis. However, the genetic cause of this form of NF has not been found.