Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease is a condition which is inherited and affects the brain and the spinal cord. The condition belongs to a group of genetic disorders called leukodystrophies. When an inability to form myelin is caused it leads to Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease.
The condition leads to impaired intellectual functions, like language and memory and delayed motor skills like coordination and walking. The motor skills tend to be more severely affected than the intellectual functions.
The condition is usually categorized into classic and connatal types. Both the two types differ in severity and their features overlap.
The people who suffer from Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease usually die of respiratory complications during childhood. However, if given proper care they can live up to the third decade of their life. Patients who suffer from classic Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease can live into their fifth or sixth decade of their life. Patients who suffer from predominantly spastic paraplegia phenotype lead a normal life span and may even reproduce.
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