Skip to Content
UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital
DONATE Donate
SHARE TEXT

Familial Dysautonomia

Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a rare inherited genetic disease caused by abnormal development of the nervous system. People with FD have problems feeling pain and heat, may have problems with balance and swallowing, and are unable to regulate their body temperature and blood pressure.

Symptoms of FD include severe eye problems, a lack of tears, feeding difficulties, and poor weight gain because of a weak suck reflex. Pneumonia may occur when uncoordinated swallowing allows breast milk or formula into the lungs.

Other common symptoms include lack of coordination, inability to feel pain, poor body temperature regulation, and developmental delays in speech and motor skills. Many children have stunted growth and curvature of the spine (scoliosis).

FD is treated with surgery to help maintain nutrition and prevent pneumonia. Medicines are used to control vomiting, eye dryness, and blood pressure. Support groups and counseling can be helpful for people with familial dysautonomia and for their families. Genetic testing is recommended to identify carriers of the disease and help guide decisions about having children.

Last Revised: March 28, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine & Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH - Reproductive Genetics

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.