Tay-Sachs disease is an inherited disorder that causes progressive destruction of nerve cells located in the brain and spinal cord. This disease is passed from parent to child through a defect (mutation) of the HEXA gene located on chromosome number 15. Both parents must have this defective gene in order for a child to inherit it. Symptoms include:
- Inability to swallow.
The genetic mutations that cause the disease are more common in people of Ashkenazi (eastern and central European) Jewish heritage than in those of other backgrounds. Approximately 1 in every 27 Jews in the United States is a carrier of the gene. Tay-Sachs disease is rare in the general population.
(Click Tay-Sachs Disease for more detailed information, including the prognosis for this condition and a list of other groups that are more likely to carry the genetic mutations.)