Sanfilippo syndrome is metabolism disorder passed down through families. It makes the body unable to properly break down long chains of sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans (formerly called mucopolysaccharides).
The syndrome belongs to a group of diseases called mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS). Specifically, it is known as MPS III.
Sanfilippo syndrome occurs when the substances (enzymes) needed to break down the heparan sulfate sugar chain are missing or are defective.
There are four main types of Sanfilippo syndrome, also called MPS III. Which type a person has depends on which enzyme is affected.
The syndrome is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. That means both your parents must pass you the defective gene in order for you to get this disease.
Sanfilippo syndrome is possibly the most common forms of MPS. It is seen in about 1 in 70,000 births. A family history of Sanfilippo syndrome increases one's risk for this condition.
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