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Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a rare genetic disease that affects the autonomic and sensory nervous systems of children from birth. The most striking symptoms of FD are reduced sensitivity to pain and temperature, and the inability to produce tears. But FD is much more than “no pain and no tears,” it affects every major system of the body, causing severe respiratory, cardiovascular, orthopedic, digestive, renal and vision problems.
Children with FD lack the most basic reflexes and instincts that we take for granted. As a result, their bodies cannot function normally. They cannot control their blood pressure or heart rate, and they lack the ability to suck at birth and the ability to swallow properly. Because they often swallow into their lungs rather than their stomachs, they are prone to pneumonia. As a result, most FD patients have a feeding tube, so they can be fed directly into their stomachs and reduce the risk of pneumonia.
For additional information, please visit The Dysautonomia Foundation website: http://www.familialdysautonomia.org/