What is Tay-Sachs disease?|
Tay-Sachs disease is a rare inherited disorder that causes progressive destruction of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system).
The most common form of Tay-Sachs disease begins in infancy. Infants with this disorder typically appear normal until the age of 3 to 6 months, when development slows and muscles used for movement weaken. Affected infants lose motor skills such as turning over, sitting, and crawling. They also develop an exaggerated startle reaction to loud noises. As the disease progresses, children with Tay-Sachs disease
How common is Tay-Sachs disease?
Tay-Sachs disease is very rare in the general population. The genetic mutations that cause this disease are more common in people of Ashkenazi (eastern and central European) Jewish heritage than in those with other backgrounds. In recent years, however, screening for mutations and genetic counseling have made the condition much less frequent in this population.
The genetic mutations that cause Tay-Sachs disease are also more common in certain French-Canadian communities of Quebec, the Old Order Amish community in Pennsylvania, and the Cajun population of L