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Metachromatic Leukodystrophy: An Assessment of Disease Burden

Journal title
Journal of child neurology
Publication year
Eichler, F. S.; Cox, T. M.; Crombez, E.; Dali, C. I.; Kohlschutter, A.

Metachromatic leukodystrophy is accompanied by severe motor and cognitive dysfunction. This is the first survey of metachromatic leukodystrophy caregiver perspectives to identify relevant clinical/quality-of-life outcomes for patients/caregivers. Interviews and 1 focus group were conducted with 30 caregivers representing 23 patients. Caregivers were asked about their experiences, including diagnostic process, signs/symptoms, symptoms affecting caregivers’ and patients’ lives, and treatment priorities. Caregivers reported loss of physical autonomy, weight loss, limited social relationships, frequent crying, and challenging sibling relationships. Most troublesome symptoms were immobility (9/30) and respiratory difficulties (6/30). Health care visits were frequent: 8/22 patients had experienced >/=11 hospitalizations since diagnosis, and 14/22 caregivers reported that these lasted >/=4 days. Caregivers also experienced work problems, feelings of fear/sadness, and loss of social relationships. Caregivers/physicians consider a therapy that could improve decline in mobility, pain, cognitive ability, communication, or food intake as conferring the greatest benefit. In conclusion, a so-far-unreported physical/economic burden in these families is presented.

Research abstracts