Neurofibromatosis(NF) is a genetic disorder that is inherited from a child’s parents. This disorder causes tumors to grow on nerve tissue. This affects the brain, nerves, spinal cord, and skin. NF is usually diagnosed in childhood between the ages three and sixteen. It is also often found in infancy. Cases diagnosed in infancy are usually the most severe. Some children may live with the disorder and may not be affected at all. It is rare for a child to be extremely disabled because of this disorder.
Neurofibromatosis causes tumors to grow on or under the skin. These tumors are called neurofibromas. As the tumors grow, they press on important areas of the body causing problems in the body's functions. It is common for neurofibromas to show up during puberty. The first stage of the disorder is the appearance of distinct small brown spots. These spots can show up anywhere on the body. The spots are called café-au-lait spots. The neurofibromas can be removed, but they may become cancerous.
There are two types of NF called NF1 and NF2. Nf1 is rather common. NF1 occurs in one in every 4,000 births, and affects about 100,000 Americans. It is also known as von Recklinghausen disease. NF2 is rarer, seen in only 1 in 50,000 births. The tumors are usually found on the nerves in the ears causing hearing loss and problems with balance. In both types of neurofibromatosis, the harshness of the disorder varies tremendously. In a family with more than one person suffering from NF, each person may display different symptoms. When a child is first diagnosed with the disorder, it is not possible to know if the disorder will result in a mild or severe condition.