Mitochondria are specialized compartments found inside every cell in the body, except red blood cells. They are responsible for creating more than 90 percent of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth.
Mitochondrial disorders occur when the mitochondria fail and are not able to produce the energy a cell or tissue needs. This causes cell injury, cell death and organ damage. Mitochondrial disorders appear to cause most damage to the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles and kidney, which are the tissues with the highest demands for energy. The clinical features of mitochondrial disorders can involve only one organ or almost any combination of organ systems.
Mitochondrial disorders most often present as muscle weakness with neurological problems, such as seizures, cerebral palsy, movement disorders or neurological deterioration. Other symptoms include:
Mitochondrial disorders may present at any age and, in most cases, affect both sexes equally.
Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Center
United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation
The Mitochondrial Research Society
Max Brewer was diagnosed with a mild form of autism when he was 3. His older brother, Arthur, also has autism and completed the Marcus Autism Center Early Intervention Program. “We had seen such great progress with Arthur, so we knew that we needed to start Max in the program, too,” Max’s mother, Therese, said.
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