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What are the Different Tay-Sachs Symptoms?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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A person with Tay-Sachs disease may experience many different types of symptoms, and unfortunately, they tend to get worse with time. A person with this condition may have seizures and develop altered startle reactions. Decreased intellectual ability, delayed social skills, and loss of motor skills may develop as well. In many cases, a person with this disease may show such signs as listlessness, problems with eating, slow body growth and behavioral changes. He may even suffer from blindness or deafness.

Tay-Sachs disease can be categorized into three separate forms. These forms are identified based on when a person initially develops symptoms of the disease. In one type, which is the most common, a person starts having symptoms when he is only three to six months old. He may appear normal at birth, but once the disease begins to cause symptoms, it tends to progress quickly. This typically leads to the death of the patient before he reaches six years of age.

A baby with this form of Tay-Sachs may exhibit many types of symptoms. At first, he may exhibit changes in behavior. For example, he may stop smiling or rolling over. He may also make less eye contact, appear listless, become frequently irritable, and have delays in social skills. His head may grow while his body growth is delayed, and cognitive ability may be affected as well.

Eventually, Tay-Sachs symptoms progress and may include difficulty eating and loss of motor skills. In many cases, a person with this condition has increasingly poor muscle tone. He may also experience the loss of intellectual skills he previously possessed. He may develop blindness and deafness as well.

The less-common types of Tay-Sachs disease are often milder but are also more rare. One type typically develops between the time a child is two to 15 years old and causes death within a few years. A third type may develop when the patient is between the ages of five and 35 and causes such Tay-Sachs symptoms as gait and speech changes. This disease may also cause tremors and mental illness. This form of the disease usually isn't fatal.

Tay-Sachs disease is a rare disorder that is passed on from parents to their children. In order for a child to develop Tay-Sachs symptoms, both of his parents usually have to carry the mutated gene responsible for the condition; carriers do not have the disease. When a person has both copies of the mutated gene, his body cannot produce the required amount of an enzyme called hexosaminidase A. Without enough of this enzyme, a substance referred to as ganglioside reaches levels in the body that are toxic and cause Tay-Sachs symptoms.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

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Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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