Childhood Diseases Rare

Every parent dreads learning that his child is ill, especially from a life-threatening or rare disease. Many rare genetic diseases manifest in childhood, including skin diseases, heart diseases, digestive system diseases, and rare blood diseases, among others. We will take a look at some rare diseases you may have heard of.

About Genetic Diseases

Genes determine the traits we have, including both physical and personality characteristics. They also have a direct impact on a person’s health. Genes are located on chromosomes and can be dominant, recessive, or sex-linked. Dominant traits or diseases are visible even if they come from only one parent, while recessive characteristics must be passed down from both.

Rare Diseases List

There are thousands of diseases that are considered rare. In fact, the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Rare Disease Research lists nearly 7,000 rare diseases on its online database. In the United States, a disease is considered rare if it affects less than 200,000 people. Here is a list of some you may be familiar with and a description of each.

  • Diphtheria: A respiratory disease characterized by a sore throat and low-grade fever; swelling of the neck may also be present.
  • Kawasaki Syndrome: A febrile illness, mostly affecting children under 5 years
  • Malaria: Caused by a parasite transmitted through a mosquito bite, malaria causes fever, chills and flu-like symptoms, and can be quite serious if left untreated.
  • Meningitis: Caused by inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, meningitis can be due to a virus, bacteria, or fungus.
  • Polio: A highly infectious disease, polio is caused by a virus and affects the nervous system; very few people experience symptoms.
  • Scarlet Fever: A rash that is caused by group A streptococcus disease, scarlet fever is also characterized by high fever and strawberry-like appearance of the tongue
  • Tetanus: This is a serious disease that causes tightening of muscles all over the body as well as locking of the jaw; hence, it is also known as lockjaw.

Most of the diseases listed above are rare today due to the development of vaccines to prevent them. If you are concerned that your child may be experiencing symptoms of a rare disease, consult your physician. Also, don’t hesitate to find a support group, either online or locally to help you through the process of dealing with the stress and life changes associated with such health issues.

Resources

Bartoshesky, L. (2009). The basics on genes and genetic disorders. Retrieved January 14, 2010, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/health_basics/genes_genetic_disorders.html#.

Office of Rare Diseases Research Staff. (n.d.). Rare diseases and related terms. Retrieved January 14, 2010, from the Office of Rare Diseases Research Web site: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/RareDiseaseList.aspx?.