The most common and severe form of metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) is the late-infantile form. The symptoms of late-infantile form MLD appear when children are 6 to 24 months old. The first symptoms include trouble walking or other movement problems. Symptoms typically get worse quickly. Painful muscle cramps and problems with speech and the ability to learn get worse until the child becomes paralyzed and blind. If the disease isn’t treated, children with this form of MLD usually die before the age of 10.
The juvenile form of MLD most often appears in children between the ages of 4 to 12. Symptoms are similar to those of late-infantile MLD. If the disease isn’t treated, some children with juvenile MLD survive into adulthood, though others die sooner.
The adult form of MLD can appear in teenagers or adults of any age. The first symptoms are often changes in personality and poor school or job performance. Adult MLD is often mistaken for other disorders such as schizophrenia or depression. As the disorder progresses, problems with memory and other mental skills, speech, controlling movement, and eating slowly get worse. People with adult MLD may sometimes live 10 to 30 years or more after symptoms appear.
Learn how transplant can treat MLD.
MedlinePlus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); [updated 2013 Sept 16; cited 2013 Sept 16]. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/