Rett Syndrome Symptoms and Effects
Most infants with Rett syndrome are girls who appear to develop typically until age 2 or 3. Rett syndrome symptoms appear to progress in stages. These phases vary depending on how serious the disease is, and how far along.
Infants with Rett syndrome usually have no symptoms during the first 6 to 12 months of life. Then, during the early-onset stage (usually between 6 to 18 months), development slows or stalls. Children stop gaining developmental skills, such as walking or talking. They might also lose skills they had achieved.
Common Rett syndrome symptoms at this stage include:
- Challenging behaviors.
- Crying or irritability.
- Difficulty crawling or walking.
- Loss of, or decline in, speech skills.
- Loss of eye contact or visual interaction.
- Loss of muscle tone (muscle weakness, floppiness).
- Lack of ability to use hands effectively.
- Repetitive hand movements (wringing, washing, tapping).
- Slowed brain and head growth.
Experts believe the behavioral challenges linked to Rett syndrome might result from communication difficulties or an altered sensory system.
Because of its symptoms, Rett syndrome often gets mistaken for autism, cerebral palsy or a developmental delay. And because signs of slowed head and brain growth can be subtle, Rett syndrome might go unnoticed until other delays become obvious.
Later Stages of Rett Syndrome
As children enter their early teenage years, the effects of Rett syndrome usually slow down. Their behavior might improve, and they might cry less or be less irritable. Alertness, attention span and nonverbal communication might also improve.
However, seizures and movement problems are common. Due to immobility and muscle weakness, joint deformities and scoliosis might also arise. Many children remain at this stage for the rest of their lives.