What is childhood Alzheimer's? Know its initial symptoms
Alzheimer's disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative condition primarily associated with the elderly. However, there exists a rare and devastating variant known as Childhood Alzheimer's or Early-Onset Alzheimer's, affecting children and adolescents. This condition is exceptionally rare and differs from typical Alzheimer's disease in terms of its age of onset, disease progression, and underlying causes. In this article, we will explore Childhood Alzheimer's, its initial symptoms, and shed light on this challenging condition.
Understanding Childhood Alzheimer's
Childhood Alzheimer's, also referred to as Juvenile Alzheimer's or Early-Onset Alzheimer's, is a rare form of dementia that affects individuals before the age of 20. Unlike the more common late-onset Alzheimer's, which usually appears after the age of 65, Childhood Alzheimer's strikes during the critical developmental stages of a child's life. The condition's impact is profound, as it robs children of their cognitive abilities and memories, significantly impacting their physical and emotional well-being.
Initial Symptoms of Childhood Alzheimer's
Memory Impairment: The hallmark symptom of Childhood Alzheimer's is a significant and rapid decline in memory function. Affected children may start forgetting recent events, struggle with short-term memory, and may have difficulty learning new information.
Cognitive Regression: Children with Childhood Alzheimer's may experience regression in cognitive abilities, losing skills they had previously mastered, such as language, motor skills, or even basic self-care tasks.
Behavioral Changes: Behavioral changes are common in affected children. They may become irritable, moody, anxious, or show signs of depression. These changes may be puzzling to parents or caregivers, as they are often out of character for the child.
Difficulty in Communication: As the disease progresses, children may face challenges in expressing themselves verbally or understanding spoken language.
Loss of Interest: Children with Childhood Alzheimer's may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They might withdraw from social interactions and show disinterest in playing with friends or engaging in school activities.
Motor Difficulties: Physical coordination and motor skills may also be affected, leading to problems with balance, movement, and coordination.
Causes of Childhood Alzheimer's
Childhood Alzheimer's is caused by genetic mutations that disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. The most common genetic mutation associated with this condition is in the PSEN1 gene, responsible for producing a protein called presenilin 1. Other gene mutations linked to Early-Onset Alzheimer's include PSEN2 and APP (amyloid precursor protein).