Leukodystrophies are disorders that affect the growth of development of the myelin sheath, the fatty substance that insulates and protects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The myelin sheath continues to develop after birth, with the growth rate peaking before 18 months of age. The myelin sheath is completely developed when a person is about 20 years old. When the myelin sheath does not grow or function properly, it leads to nervous system damage. This damage is progressive and can get worse over time. There are many different genes that can be affected and many different types of leukodystrophies. The symptoms can be different depending on the type of leukodystrophy.
The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) & Demyelinating Diseases Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital provides treatment for leukodystrophies in children.