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  • Beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration (BPAN) is a genetic disorder that damages the nervous system and is a progressive disease, which means that that kids will eventually lose all the skills they’ve worked so hard to gain.

  • Beta-propeller Protein-Associated Neurodegeneration (BPAN) is caused by mutations in the gene WDR45, located on the X chromosome. Most affected individuals identified so far have been simplex cases, meaning they are the only person in their family to have the disease. The majority are females, indicating the mutations are new, or de novo, and suggesting that mutations may be lethal in most males before birth. There are rare instances of recurrence in a sibling. In these cases, the mutation was inherited from a mildly affected parent. 

  • Many people with BPAN have recurrent seizures (epilepsy) beginning in infancy or early childhood. Several different types of seizures can occur in this disorder, even in the same individual.

  • Children with BPAN also have intellectual disability, delayed development including significant problems with vocabulary and producing speech (expressive language), and difficulty coordinating movements (ataxia). Ataxia can affect the ability to walk and perform fine motor skills such as using utensils.

  • In late adolescence or early adulthood, individuals with BPAN may begin to experience a gradual loss of intellectual functioning (cognitive decline) that can lead to a severe loss of thinking and reasoning abilities (dementia). Worsening problems with movement also occur, including dystonia and parkinsonism. Dystonia is a condition characterized by involuntary, sustained muscle contractions. In BPAN, the dystonia often starts in the arms. Parkinsonism can include unusually slow movement (bradykinesia), rigidity, tremors, an inability to hold the body upright and balanced (postural instability), and a shuffling walk that can cause recurrent falls.

  • The lifespan of people with BPAN varies. With proper management of their signs and symptoms, affected individuals can live into middle age. Death may result from complications of dementia or movement problems, such as injuries from falls or swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) that can lead to a bacterial lung infection called aspiration pneumonia.

More information on BPAN

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