Neuropathy in Navajo children: clinical and epidemiologic features.


We describe a rare and apparently unique neuropathic syndrome among Navajo children living on the Navajo Reservation. Clinical features include sensorimotor neuropathy, corneal ulcerations, acral mutilation, poor weight gain, short stature, sexual infantilism, serious systemic infections, and liver derangement including Reye's syndrome-like episodes. Progressive CNS white matter lesions were diagnosed through magnetic resonance imaging. We identified 20 definite and 4 probable cases occurring between 1959 and 1986. Mean age at the time of 1st recognized symptom was 13 months (range, 1 month to 4 years 6 months). Ten individuals have died; 6 of the deaths occurred before 5 years of age. The incidence of this syndrome on the western Navajo reservation is 5 times higher than that on the eastern reservation (38 compared with 7 cases per 100,000 births). Although the etiology is unknown, this syndrome is consistent with an inborn error of metabolism, inherited in an autosomal recessive manner.

Location Description: 

New Mexico NM,Utah UT,Arizona AZ