Pediatric Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT)

Pediatric Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT)

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Summary

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is an inherited neurological disorder that often causes problems with walking, speaking, breathing and swallowing.

Expanded overview

Charcot-Marie Tooth disease (CMT) is one of the most common inherited neurological diseases in the United States, as it affects roughly 1 in 2,500 people. Named for the three physicians who first identified it in 1886, CMT is also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN) or peroneal muscular atrophy.

CMT affects the peripheral nerves, which lie outside the brain and spinal cord and control the muscles and sensory organs in the limbs. This is why a common symptom of the condition is trouble walking. Most people with this condition live a normal lifespan, as CMT is not considered a fatal disease.

Symptoms

Initial symptoms

Usually beginning in adolescence* or young adulthood** (ages 10 to 25 years), symptoms of CMT include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty walking, speaking or swallowing
  • Foot deformities, such as high arches or hammertoes
  • High-stepped gait with frequent tripping or falls
  • Weakness of the foot and lower leg muscles

Later symptoms

As CMT progresses over the years, additional symptoms can slowly develop, such as:

  • Difficulty with fine motor skills in the fingers, hands, wrists, feet and tongue
  • Weakness and muscle atrophy (breakdown) in the hands

*Age of adolescents as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
**Age of young adults as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

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