Congenital hypomyelination neuropathy in a newborn infant: unusual cause of diaphragmatic and vocal cord paralyses
We report a case of congenital hypomyelination neuropathy presenting at birth. The infant had generalized hypotonia and weakness. There was decreased respiratory effort along with a right phrenic nerve and left vocal cord paralyses. Tongue fasciculations were present. Deep tendon reflexes were absent in the upper extremities and hypoactive (1+) in the lower extremities. Magnetic resonance imaging of the head revealed no intracranial abnormalities, including normal cerebral myelination. Nerve conduction study showed absence of motor and sensory action potentials in the hands when the nerves in the upper limbs were stimulated. A motor response could be elicited only in the proximal leg muscles. Needle electromyography study was normal in the proximal limb muscles, but showed active denervation in the distal muscles of the arm and leg. These findings were thought to be consistent with a length-dependent sensorimotor peripheral polyneuropathy of axonal type with greater denervation of the distal muscles. A biopsy of the quadriceps muscle showed mild variability in fiber diameter, but no group typing or group atrophy. The muscle fibers showed no intrinsic abnormalities. Biopsy of the sural nerve showed scattered axons with very thin myelin sheaths. There was also a nearly complete loss of large diameter myelinated fibers. No onion bulb formations were noted. These findings were thought to be consistent with congenital hypomyelination neuropathy with a component of axonopathy. DNA analysis for identification of previously characterized mutations in the genes MPZ, PMP22, and EGR2 was negative. Several attempts at extubation failed and the infant became increasingly ventilator-dependent with increasing episodes of desaturation and hypercapnea. He also developed increasing weakness and decreased movement of all extremities. He underwent surgery at 2 months of age for placement of a gastrostomy tube and a tracheostomy. He was discharged from the hospital on a ventilator at 6 months of age. The infant was 13 months old at the time of submission of this report. Although he appears cognitively normal, he remains profoundly hypotonic and is on a home ventilator. There was no evidence of progressive weakness. Congenital hypomyelination neuropathy is a rare form of neonatal neuropathy that should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a newborn with profound hypotonia and weakness. It appears to be a heterogeneous disorder with some of the cases being caused by specific genetic mutations.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Pediatrics 108: U108–U111, 2001. Reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Publication date: June 1, 2002