CogniFit's Science blog: Can Dementia Arise With Children?

Can Dementia Arise With Children?

When you hear the word dementia, the first thing that comes to mind is older adults who have lost brain capacity and cognitive abilities capabilities. The thought of a child developing such a horrific disease is mind-boggling and heartbreaking. But sadly, it can occur with children as well.

There is no denying the fact that dementia typically is found in adults. But infections and poisoning can lead to the condition in people of any and all ages. And when it comes to children, there are some disorders that are unique to the age that cause the disease.

One form of disease that is associated with dementia is Niemann-Pick disease. This is a group of inherited disorders that affect ones metabolism and is caused by specific genetic mutations. Patients suffering from this have trouble properly metabolizing cholesterol and other lipids. In addition, excessive amounts of cholesterol accumulate in the liver and spleen.

Excessive amounts of other lipids also accumulate in the brain with Niemann-Pick disease. It will often begin in young school-age children, but can also become apparent during teen years or early adulthood. The symptoms you want to keep an eye on include dementia, confusion and problems with learning and memory.

The next disease to be wary of is Batten disease, which is a fatal disorder that is hereditary and affects the nervous system. This disease that begins in childhood includes symptoms that are linked to a buildup of substances called liopigments in the body’s tissues. Early symptoms consist of personality and behavior changes, slow learning, clumsiness and stumbling. As it progresses, mental impairment, seizures, loss of sight and motor skills, and dementia occur.

The final disease that can cause dementia is Lafora body disease, which is a rare genetic disease. It can also cause seizures and movement problems along the way. This disease becomes apparent in late childhood or early teens. Children with the disease have microscopic structures called Lafora bodies in the brain, skin, liver and muscles. Sadly, those affected often die within 2 to 10 years of the onset of symptoms.

While these are the three main diseases to be aware of, there are several other childhood-onset disorders that can include symptoms of dementia. It is vital you understand the symptoms, know what to look for, and do all that you can to get a proper diagnosis as early as possible. This will provide the best opportunity for an efficient treatment to help your child live a long and fulfilling life.