Seven distinct clinical types and numerous subtypes of the mucopolysaccharidoses have been identified. Although each mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) differs clinically, most patients generally experience a period of normal development followed by a decline in physical and/or mental function.
MPS I is divided into three subtypes based on severity of symptoms. All three types result from an absence of, or insufficient levels of, the enzyme alpha-L-iduronidase. Children born to an MPS I parent carry the defective gene.
MPS I H, Hurler syndrome, is the most severe of the MPS I subtypes. Developmental delay is evident by the end of the first year, and patients usually stop developing between ages 2 and 4. This is followed by progressive mental decline and loss of physical skills. Language may be limited due to hearing loss and an enlarged tongue. In time, the clear layers of the cornea become clouded and retinas may begin to degenerate. Carpal tunnel syndrome (or similar compression of nerves elsewhere in the body) and restricted joint movement are common.
Affected children may be quite large at birth and appear normal but may have inguinal (in the groin) or umbilical (where the umbilical cord passes through the abdomen) hernias. Growth in height may be faster than normal but begins to slow before the end of the first year and often ends around age 3. Many children develop a short body trunk and a maximum stature of less than 4 feet. Distinct facial features (including flat face, depressed nasal bridge, and bulging forehead) become more evident in the second year. By age 2, the ribs have widened and are oar-shaped. The liver, spleen, and heart are often enlarged. Children may experience noisy breathing and recurring upper respiratory tract and ear infections. Feeding may be difficult for some children, and many experience periodic bowel problems. Children with Hurler syndrome often die before age 10 from obstructive airway disease, respiratory infections, or cardiac complications.
MPS I S, Scheie syndrome, is the mildest form of MPS I. Symptoms generally begin to appear after age 5, with diagnosis most commonly made after age 10. Children with Scheie syndrome have normal intelligence or may have mild learning disabilities; some may have psychiatric problems. Glaucoma, retinal degeneration, and clouded corneas may significantly impair vision. Other problems include carpal tunnel syndrome or other nerve compression, stiff joints, claw hands and deformed feet, a short neck, and aortic valve disease. Some affected individuals also have obstructive airway disease and sleep apnea. Persons with Scheie syndrome can live into adulthood.
MPS I H-S, Hurler-Scheie syndrome, is less severe than Hurler syndrome alone. Symptoms generally begin between ages 3 and 8. Children may have moderate mental retardation and learning difficulties. Skeletal and systemic irregularities include short stature, marked smallness in the jaws, progressive joint stiffness, compressed spinal cord, clouded corneas, hearing loss, heart disease, coarse facial features, and umbilical hernia. Respiratory problems, sleep apnea, and heart disease may develop in adolescence. Some persons with MPS I H-S need continuous positive airway pressure during sleep to ease breathing. Life expectancy is generally into the late teens or early twenties.
Although no studies have been done to determine the frequency of MPS I in the United States, studies in British Columbia estimate that one in 100,000 babies born has Hurler syndrome. The estimate for Scheie syndrome is one in 500,000 births and for Hurler-Scheie syndrome it is one in 115,000 births.
MPS II, Hunter syndrome,...