March 2, 2005 at 8:32 PM CST - Updated July 26 at 7:47 PM
Fragile X Syndrome By: Wendy Ray
Do you know if you're carrying a gene that could result in your child having learning disabilities or mental retardation? I
t's called Fragile X Syndrome. Sherry Lucas had no idea she was a carrier of Fragile X, the most common known cause of inherited mental impairment. She says the condition is often mixed up with autism because not many people know about it. Sherry hopes her story will shed some light on the signs of Fragile X.
"Hunter didn't start walking until he was 15 months, he still doesn't talk like a five year old should talk," Sherry says. Sherry and her daughter knew that something was wrong with Hunter, they just didn't know what. Sherry was fearful he might have Fragile X Syndrome. Hunter's symptoms were similar to Sherry's nephew, who was diagnosed with the condition. Sherry says they put off testing for Fragile X. Eventually a blood test was done and it came back positive. "I carry the gene and I can pass it onto my daughter who can pass it onto her children. The woman gives the male the X chromosome, that's what's affected in Fragile X," Sherry says.
The condition affects a child's fine motor skills, upper body skills, and speech. Fragile X can cause a mild learning disability to severe mental retardation. Hunter was just diagnosed last fall. Sherry doesn't really know yet how severe his case is, but he's doing pretty well now. "ABCs, numbers, and colors, he knows them because we've worked with him," she says.
Sherry says Hunter won't get any worse, but she doesn't know how far he will progress. Future testing will help determine how Hunter will do. Sherry is hopeful more people will learn what Fragile X is, and what they can do to help a child who has it. "One out of 250 women are carriers of Fragile X and many may not know it," she says.