What are the symptoms and treatment options for Leigh’s Disease?

Symptom Database

Leigh’s Disease, also known as Leigh syndrome, is a rare neurological disorder that primarily affects infants and young children. It is a progressive brain disorder caused by a dysfunction in the mitochondria, the energy-producing structures within cells. This article will explore the symptoms and treatment options for Leigh’s Disease, providing valuable insights for those seeking information about this condition.

Leigh’s Disease Symptoms

Leigh’s Disease manifests itself through various symptoms, which can vary in severity from person to person. Some of the common symptoms associated with this condition include:

  • Loss of motor skills: Children with Leigh’s Disease often experience a gradual loss of motor skills, such as crawling, walking, and even swallowing.
  • Muscle weakness: Weakness in the muscles is a prevalent symptom of Leigh’s Disease. This can lead to difficulties in performing everyday tasks.
  • Developmental delay: Children with Leigh’s Disease may experience delays in reaching developmental milestones, such as sitting up, speaking, or interacting with others.
  • Seizures: Seizures are a common symptom of Leigh’s Disease and can range from mild to severe.
  • Poor growth: Children with Leigh’s Disease may have difficulty gaining weight and growing at a normal rate.
  • Feeding difficulties: Difficulties with feeding, including swallowing difficulties and poor appetite, are often observed in individuals with Leigh’s Disease.

It is important to note that these symptoms can appear at different ages and progress at varying rates. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial in managing the symptoms and improving the quality of life for individuals with Leigh’s Disease.

Treatment Options for Leigh’s Disease

Currently, there is no cure for Leigh’s Disease. Treatment primarily focuses on managing the symptoms and providing supportive care to improve the individual’s quality of life. The following treatment options may be considered:


Medications can be prescribed to manage specific symptoms associated with Leigh’s Disease. For example, antiepileptic drugs may be prescribed to control seizures, while muscle relaxants can help alleviate muscle stiffness and spasms.

Dietary Modifications

Since Leigh’s Disease affects the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy, dietary modifications may be recommended. A high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet has shown some promise in managing the symptoms of mitochondrial diseases, including Leigh’s Disease. This diet aims to provide an alternative energy source for the body.

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Physical and occupational therapy can play a crucial role in managing the loss of motor skills and muscle weakness associated with Leigh’s Disease. These therapies focus on improving mobility, strength, and coordination, enabling individuals to maintain their independence for as long as possible.

Supportive Care

Supportive care is essential in managing the overall well-being of individuals with Leigh’s Disease. This may include regular check-ups with healthcare professionals, monitoring of symptoms, and providing assistance with daily activities.


Leigh’s Disease is a rare and progressive brain disorder that affects infants and young children. It is characterized by symptoms such as loss of motor skills, muscle weakness, developmental delay, seizures, poor growth, and feeding difficulties. While there is currently no cure for Leigh’s Disease, various treatment options can help manage the symptoms and improve the individual’s quality of life. Medications, dietary modifications, physical and occupational therapy, and supportive care are among the approaches used to address the challenges associated with this condition. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial in providing the best possible outcomes for individuals with Leigh’s Disease.

It is important to consult with healthcare professionals for accurate diagnosis, personalized treatment plans, and ongoing support. By raising awareness and understanding about Leigh’s Disease, we can contribute to better outcomes and improved quality of life for those affected by this condition.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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