An Arlington, Texas, family is coping with their young daughter’s diagnosis of the same fatal disease that took the life of their 9-year-old son, WFAA-TV reported Tuesday.
Like most children, Katie Limer, 3, enjoys playing with her toys and singing. However, two months ago, Katie’s parents Thad and Leah noticed their daughter had the same symptoms her older brother Andrew once had – Niemann-Pick disease, type C.
“Her speech has become very slurred, very thought out,” Thad Limer told WFAA-TV. “If she tries to feed herself, or do stuff with her hands, they shake. She falls down a lot.”
The disease, known widely as pediatric Alzheimer’s, causes a buildup of cholesterol in the liver, spleen and brain because of the body's inability to metabolize lipids, the fat molecules that are among the chief structural components of living cells.
There are about 500 cases of Niemann-Pick disease diagnosed worldwide each year, according to the National Niemann-Pick Foundation.
NPC is always fatal. The majority of children die before age 20. Many die before age 10. The late onset of symptoms can lead to longer life spans, but it is very rare for a person with NPC to reach age 40, the foundation's Web site says.
“And the effects on the brain eventually produce symptoms of dementia, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” Limer said. “But on a child, they lose everything; and it’s usually one step at a time.”