A Rare Lysosomal Storage Disease

Why refer to it as the “Childhood Alzheimer’s”?

Why refer to it as the “Childhood Alzheimer’s”?

You possibly can recall someone you knew that suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Currently 5.3 million Americans are living with this progressive and fatal brain disease with no cure ( Alzheimer's is progressively devastating in how it destroys brain cells, causes loss of memory (progressive dementia), and problems with intellectual functions that affect many of the things you and I take for granted. Alzheimer's is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States (

Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.netIn comparison to Niemann-Pick Type C Disease (NPC), it has maybe less than a 100 people currently living in the U nited States. Many sources state that 500 cases have been diagnosed ever worldwide. That's not exactly as common of disease as Alzheimer's.  NPC is described as a genetic degenerative neurological  disorder that mostly strikes during childhood that stores fatty lipids in the brain, liver, spleen, and bone marrow because of the cells inability to metabolize cholesterol. Although uncommon, adult onset can take place with NPC. Outcome is also fatal with no cure.

Whether it is Niemann-Pick Type C Disease (NPC) or Alzheimer's, they are extremely saddening to experience as a loved one. One affects mostly older adults and the other strikes predominantly in adolescents. Regardless, a main symptom in each disease is progressive Dementia along with similar pathological features that include the loss of intellectual function.

The question seems to arise often regarding why would you refer to Niemann-Pick Type C Disease (NPC) as the “Childhood Alzheimer's” when they are technically two separate diseases? Touche', great point Dr. Watson. My wife Jennifer absolutely hates when the two are referred to one another. I on the other hand am absolutely fine with the comparison and title.

When you tell someone about NPC, they kind of give you that “deer in the headlights” look along with the “side head nod” like a puppy. For any of you in sales or marketing the first thing you are taught is to make an impact statement to gain attention or some type of understanding of what your speaking about. When you say the “Childhood Alzheimer's” people can instantly relate to someone or to a situation where they've heard about Alzheimer's or Dementia.

Overall if you explain in a way tha t they are two separate diseases that share some similarities, you should be able to paint a mental picture for your audience. In no way do I feel by using this reference that it confuses nor threatens anyone. Just explaining what NPC is, is confusing enough. How can you make it any more confusing for people? Seriously.

You as a parent are the biggest advocate for your children. We need to let people know about this horrible disease. I believe it holds keys to other diseases affected by the storage of cholesterol in cells. Please visit our website or my family's personal page

Photo used under Creative Commons from Sharron Goodyear.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks!

Leave a Reply