What are the symptoms of Batten disease?

What are the symptoms of Batten disease?

All types of Batten disease share many of the same symptoms, but they may begin at different ages. Babies and children with Batten disease grow and develop normally for a period of time. They meet developmental milestones, such as crawling, walking, talking and feeding themselves. But then they stop progressing and begin to decline. They lose any skills they’ve learned and develop symptoms. These symptoms usually worsen quickly.

Symptoms vary from person to person. The first signs of Batten disease include:

  • Vision loss (this symptom does not affect adults with Batten disease).
  • Epilepsy (seizures).
  • Cognitive problems, trouble learning or difficulty keeping up in school.
  • Problems with speaking. This includes speech delays, stuttering and repeating words or phrases several times.
  • Clumsiness and issues with coordination, balance and movement.

Other signs appear later, or they may overlap with the first symptoms. They include:

  • Tremors, tics, muscle spasms and myoclonus (abnormal muscle twitches).
  • Changes in mood, behavior or personality.
  • Dementia.
  • Hallucinations and episodes of psychosis (being out of touch with reality).
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Muscle spasticity and rigidity (muscles that are always tight or flexed).
  • Weakness in the limbs, which progresses into paralysis.
  • Heart problems, such as arrhythmia (in teenagers and young adults).

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