Tay Sachs Disease

by Alyssa Alberti

What Is It?

Tay Sachs disease is a progressive, genetic condition that affects the nerve cells and the brain. There is a fatty substance (GM2 ganglioside) that builds up in the brain. It is caused when the two Tay Sach genes you have work improperly or have a mutation.


There are no emotional affects. There are mental affects that are stated below.

3-6 months: muscle weakness, low muscle tone,increased startle response, jerking in sleep

6-10 months: won’t meet motor milestones, can not sit, decreased eye movement

8-10 months: move less and become less responsive, loss of vision, seizures, trouble swallowing

Time Frame of Tay Sachs

  • Child starts to show symptoms around 3 months old
  • Progressive symptoms become more severe as the child gets older
  • Typical lifespan is 3-4 years old

Problems Associated With the Tay Sachs

  • Child will need all the care they can get due to loss of movement
  • No cures or treatments for Tay Sachs disease
  • Child has loss of ability to sit, stand, walk, talk etc.
  • Only medication that may help child is to help seizures

Who Is Affected?

A child can only be affected by Tay Sachs disease if both parents are a carrier of it. If only one parent carries it, it is impossible for the child to be affected.

If you are Jewish, Irish, French-Canadian, or Cajun, it is highly recommended that you are tested to ensure that you are not a carrier of Tay Sachs Disease. The people of these heritages have a higher risk of being carriers.

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  • No changes will be necessary in your home
  • Emotional support may be needed for family members
  • Child is too young to be enrolled in school, therefore no support in school is needed