Sunday, July 21, 2024

Parkinson’s Disease In Kids

Whats Different About Young

Two-year-old battling juvenile Parkinson’s dystonia

The age of diagnosis matters for a variety of reasons, from probable causes of early cases to symptoms and treatment:

  • Genetics. As with any case of Parkinsons disease, the exact cause is usually unknown. That said, The young-onset cases of Parkinsons disease are, on average, a bit more likely to be familial or genetic, says Gregory Pontone, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Movement Disorders Psychiatry Clinic.
  • Symptoms. In many patients with YOPD, dystonia is an early symptom. People with YOPD also report more dyskinesia . They also tend to exhibit cognitive problems, such as dementia and memory issues, less frequently.
  • Progression. Patients with young-onset Parkinsons appear to have a slower progression of the disease over time, says Pontone. They tend to have a milder course, staying functional and cognitively intact for much longer.
  • Treatment. Most patients with Parkinsons take the medication levodopa. However, other drugs, such as MAO-B inhibitors, anticholinergics, amantadine, and dopamine receptor agonists, may be used before levodopa.

More Information About Pd

The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.

  • American Parkinson Disease Association, Inc. : This web site provides information to support and teach people who are affected by Parkinsonâs disease, including caregivers. It also provides links to resources, such as support groups and exercise classes.

  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research: This web site provides information about its work to make sure government policies accelerate the development of new, improved therapies for Parkinson disease and about ways to increase quality of life for people with Parkinson disease and their families, including support groups and telemedicine.

  • Parkinson’s Disease Foundation : This web site describes Parkinson disease and its symptoms and provides tips for living with Parkinson disease and an opportunity for online community with other people who have Parkinson disease.

Parkinsons Books For Kids

The following books were written to facilitate discussion with children about Parkinsons disease. The books offer age-appropriate information about PD and perspectives to help children and teens better understand important issues in the PD world. This is not a comprehensive list of available titles, but its a great place to start. All of the books below are available on and other online retailers.

  • Ill Hold Your Hand, So You Wont Fall: A Childs Guide to Parkinsons Disease by Rasheda Ali, with a foreward by Muhammad Ali
  • Carina and Her Care Partner Gramma by Kirk Hall
  • Carson and His Shaky Paws Grampa by Kirk Hall
  • My GrandPas Shaky Hands by Dr. Soania Mathur
  • Parkinsons in the Park: For Children of Parents with Parkinsons by Jessica Christie
  • Shaky Hands: A Kids Guide to Parkinsons Disease by Dr. Soania Mathur
  • The Tale of a Parkie Princess: A Chronic Illness Described in a Fairy Tale by Annie Konopka

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What You Can Do To Help Children Adjust To Pd

about changes in your home if at all possible. The staff at the school, along with sports coaches or leaders of other extracurricular activities, can be your allies in watching over your childrens emotional health and looking out for signs of distress. Sharing accurate PD information with the other adults in their lives will help ensure that your attitude and philosophies are always communicated in a similar way.

Establish family meetings to create opportunities to regularly address issues and worries, along with what is working well. You may use one of the books about Parkinsons written for children as a jumping off point for the discussion. Below youll find a list of a few of these books for reference. As PD is a progressive condition and will change over time, new questions may come up and need to be addressed. Plan a fun activity following a PD talk.

Maintain family life, while remaining flexible with the changes that occur. Encourage and reassure your kids to continue their involvement in favorite activities, interests and hobbies. They should have fun and live their normal lives as much as possible. This is important for their overall wellbeing.

Bring children to a neurology appointment so they can learn about PD. If they are interested, you can talk more about research into new treatments and with specialists who are available to help.

Empower children by helping them organize a PD fundraiser or raise PD awareness. It is something they can do to help.

Environmental Factors And Exposures


Exposure to pesticides and a history of head injury have each been linked with PD, but the risks are modest. Never drinking caffeinated beverages is also associated with small increases in risk of developing PD.

Low concentrations of urate in the blood is associated with an increased risk of PD.

Drug-induced parkinsonism

Different medical drugs have been implicated in cases of parkinsonism. Drug-induced parkinsonism is normally reversible by stopping the offending agent. Drugs include:

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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Treated

If a doctor thinks a person has Parkinson’s disease, there’s reason for hope. Medicine can be used to eliminate or improve the symptoms, like the body tremors. And some experts think that a cure may be found soon.

For now, a medicine called levodopa is often given to people who have Parkinson’s disease. Called “L-dopa,” this medicine increases the amount of dopamine in the body and has been shown to improve a person’s ability to walk and move around. Other drugs also help decrease and manage the symptoms by affecting dopamine levels. In some cases, surgery may be needed to treat it. The person would get anesthesia, a special kind of medicine to prevent pain during the operation.

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What Research Is Being Done

Current research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke are using animal models to study how the disease progresses and to develop new drug therapies. Scientists looking for the cause of PD continue to search for possible environmental factors, such as toxins, that may trigger the disorder, and study genetic factors to determine how defective genes play a role. Researchers are investigating how cellular processes controlled by genes contribute to neurodegeneration , including the toxic accumulation of the protein alpha-synuclein in nerve cells and how the loss of dopamine impairs communication between nerve cells. Other scientists are working to develop new protective drugs that can delay, prevent, or reverse the disease. Key NINDS programs include the Parkinson’s Disease Biomarkers Program, which is aimed at discovering biomarkers–new ways to identify people at risk for developing PD and to track the progression of the disease and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Parkinson’s Disease , in which the National Institutes of Health, multiple biopharmaceutical and life science communities, and nonprofit advocacy organizations work to identify and validate biomarkers for PD. More information about Parkinson’s Disease research is available at:

The four primary symptoms of PD are:

The four primary symptoms of PD are:

The four primary symptoms of PD are:

Talking To Children And Teenagers

Parkinson’s Disease

If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and have children or grandchildren, you may be thinking about how to talk to them about your condition. Maybe youre worried about how to start the conversation or how theyll react. You may also be concerned about how your Parkinsons will affect family life.

Yes, when youre ready.

Its natural to want to protect children from knowing about serious health issues in case it scares, upsets or worries them. But keeping it from them isnt the answer.

This is because:

  • Children are very aware of whats happening around them. Even if you try to hide your condition, theyre likely to pick up that something is wrong from snippets of conversations or from changes in the mood or atmosphere at home.
  • Not knowing whats wrong may mean that children come up with their own theories about whats happening and these may be worse than the reality.
  • As Parkinsons progresses it will become more and more difficult to hide your symptoms and your children may find out from someone else. Its much better that they hear about it from you. If not, they may feel resentful or worried about why you didnt tell them.
  • Trying to keep Parkinsons hidden from your children may be difficult and exhausting for you.
  • You may feel relieved to tell your children. Speaking about your condition to your family may help to normalise your situation and make it less frightening for everyone.

Try to prepare yourself for the following emotions:

  • worry
  • sadness
  • grief

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Parkinson Disease In Children

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The Plus Side Of An Early Diagnosis

The news is not nearly all bad for those with young-onset Parkinsons. For one thing, patients with YOPD are better candidates for surgical procedures and medical innovations being used or developed to treat Parkinsons disease. For another, younger patients are less likely to be coping with other health problems at the same time.

Targeting Parkinsons-Linked Protein Could Neutralize 2 of the Diseases Causes

Researchers report they have discovered how two problem proteins known to cause Parkinsons disease are chemically linked, suggesting that someday, both could be neutralized by a single drug designed to target the link.

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Can Parkinsons Be Passed From Parent To Child

Its rare for Parkinsons disease to be passed down from parent to child. Most cases of Parkinsons arent hereditary. But people who get early-onset Parkinsons disease are more likely to have inherited it.

Having a family history of Parkinsons disease may increase the risk that youll get it. This means that having a parent or sibling with Parkinsons slightly increases the risk.

In most cases, the cause of Parkinsons disease remains unknown. But researchers have identified multiple risk factors that can increase your chances of getting this disease.

Risk factors for Parkinsons disease include:

  • mutations in specific genes associated with Parkinsons
  • having a family history of Parkinsons or a first-degree family member with Parkinsons
  • being older, especially above the age of 60
  • exposure to herbicides and pesticides
  • being assigned male at birth
  • history of brain injury

Parkinson’s Disease Facts For Kids

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Kids Encyclopedia FactsSir William Richard Gowers

Parkinson’s disease is a disease that slowly damages the central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spine. When a person gets Parkinson’s disease, the cells that make dopamine in a part of the brain die. Dopamine cells send information to other cells which makes us do the actions we do. Because of this, Parkinson’s disease mainly affects the body’s motor system.

Parkinson’s disease is a disease that gets worse over time. People normally get Parkinson’s disease when they are over 50 years old. It is sometimes very hard for doctors to detect.

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How Are Movement Disorders Treated

Treatment of movement disorders varies from child to child, depending on the type of disorder and the underlying cause. Some children with movement disorders may only need observation, as many disorders improve as children develop.

When treatment is necessary, options may include:

  • oral medications to relax muscles and ease stiffness, tremors and spasms
  • injections of botulinum toxin for dystonia that affects a single body part, and sometimes for tic disorders and myoclonus
  • dopamine for parkinsonism
  • an implanted baclofen pump can be helpful for dystonia mixed with spasticity that does not get better with oral medications
  • deep brain stimulation is a treatment for primary dystonia that does not respond to medications

Some children with movement disorder may also benefit from:

  • physical therapy to strengthen or stretch the affected limbs and muscles
  • occupational therapy to help overcome any limitations caused by abnormal movements
  • support to help the family and child cope with ongoing symptoms of movement disorders
  • neuropsychiatric testing, when the movement disorder is accompanied by cognitive or behavioral problems

Genetics And Environmental Factors

Environmental factors are also significant contributors to the development of Parkinson’s and may, in some cases, work in tandem with genetics to cause the disorder. A study in 2004 showed that people who had a mutation of the CYP2D6 gene and were exposed to pesticides were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s.

On their own, pesticides, metals, solvents, and other toxicants have each been loosely linked to Parkinson’s. But what’s interesting is that those who had the CYB2D6 mutation and were not exposed to pesticides were not found to be at any higher risk of developing the disorder.

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How Are Pediatric Movement Disorders Diagnosed

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parents who have noticed tics or other unusual movements should first try to assess whether or not the movements are distractible and whether they are affecting the childs social or academic life.

Once a child is brought to a pediatrician or pediatric neurologist, the doctor will interview the child along with the parents. The doctor will first classify the disorder and then determine whether there are underlying issues behind the movements, such as seizures or a genetic disease that could be treated.

A patient history and a careful examination often excludes the diagnosis of epilepsy. On rare occasions, additional tests such as an electroencephalogram , magnetic resonance imaging or blood tests are needed.

There is no known laboratory test for stereotypies or tics. The diagnosis is made by history and clinical inspection, Dr. Bamford says. However, testing is often required to determine exactly why children have other movement disorders.

When possible, says Dr. Bamford, they treat the underlying disease. But generally, we focus on treatments that will help correct the movement disturbance.

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When To See A Doctor About Parkinsons

There isnt one specific test to diagnose Parkinsons disease. Doctors will usually evaluate your symptoms and perform several tests to determine if you have the condition. If you notice the following early warning signs, then you should see a doctor.

The early warning signs of Parkinsons disease include:

Why Is Distinguishing Young

Socially, people who are affected by PD at a younger age experience the disease differently they may be at a different stage of their career and often have less time to engage in their own care. They may also have children or are planning to have children and have questions regarding passing on PD genes.

Medically, doctors tailor treatment when it is a younger person with PD. The younger you are, the more likely the disease is genetic. Your care team may offer genetic testing or counseling. Younger brains also have a higher neuroplasticity potential which allows the brain to handle and respond to disease and therapy differently.

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How Are Pediatric Movement Disorders Treated

While parents should certainly talk to their children about their movements, they should not admonish them, Dr. Bamford says. Tics are made worse by criticism and negative comments, he says. Those heighten childrens anxieties, and the movements may worsen.

Some children with movement disorders such as tics may also have anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. If a doctor determines that a child also has one of these disorders, the child may require additional treatments or medications. The need for treatment generally depends on how severe the problem is and should always balance potential risks and benefits.

Some children with movement disorders benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Treatment , a form of talk therapy that increases awareness of habitual thoughts and behaviors and how those are linked. CBT may use substitution methods, which may act to reprogram the brain. CBT is offered at Yale Medicine and, when possible, should be considered before using medications.

In some cases, when its determined that a child has a reduced capacity to make dopamine, dopamine replacement therapy can be useful. A course of treatment can lead to slowed movements, stiffness and sometimes tremor, Dr. Bamford says. Dopamine replacement can reduce these symptoms for children who have dopamine-dependent movement disorders including Segawa’s disease, tyrosine hydroxylase deficiency and sepiapterin reductase deficiency.

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