Infantile onset spinocerebellar ataxia
Type of disease: Rare conditions
Infantile-onset spinocerebellar ataxia (IOSCA) is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system. Babies with IOSCA develop normally during the first year of life. During early childhood, however, they begin experiencing difficulty coordinating movements (ataxia); very weak muscle tone (hypotonia); involuntary writhing movements of the limbs (athetosis); and decreased reflexes. By their teenage years affected individuals require wheelchair assistance. People with IOSCA may experience excessive sweating, difficulty controlling urination, and severe constipation. IOSCA also leads to vision and hearing problems that begin by about age 7. Children with this disorder develop weakness in the muscles that control eye movement (ophthalmoplegia). In their teenage years they experience degeneration of the nerves that carry information from the eyes to the brain (optic atrophy), which can result in vision loss. Hearing loss caused by nerve damage (sensorineural hearing loss) typically occurs during childhood and progresses to profound deafness. Individuals with IOSCA may have recurrent seizures (epilepsy). These seizures can lead to severe brain dysfunction (encephalopathy). Most people with IOSCA survive into adulthood. However, a few individuals with IOSCA have an especially severe form of the disorder involving liver damage and encephalopathy that develops during early childhood. These children do not generally live past age 5.