Hurler syndrome (MPS IH), the severe, neurodegenerative form of type one mucopolysaccharidosis, is associated with rapid neurocognitive decline during toddlerhood and multi-system dysfunction. It is now standardly treated with hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), which halts accumulating disease pathology and prevents early death. While norm-based data on developmental functioning in untreated children have previously demonstrated neurocognitive decline, advances in methodology for understanding the cognitive functioning of children with neurodegenerative diseases have highlighted that the previous choice of scores to report results was not ideal. Specifically, the lowest possible norm-based score is 50, which obscures the complete range of cognitive functioning at more advanced stages of neurodeterioration. To a set of cognitive data collected on a sample of untreated children, we applied a modern method of score analysis, calculating a developmental quotient based on age equivalent scores, to reveal the full range of cognitive functioning beneath this cutoff of 50, uncovering new information about the rapidity of decline and the profound impairment in these children.
Among 39 observations for 32 patients with untreated Hurler syndrome, the full array of cognitive functioning below 50 includes many children in the severely to profoundly impaired range. The loss of skills per time unit was 14 points between age 1 and 2. There was a very large range of developmental quotients corresponding to the norm-based cutoff of 50.
This report enables clarification of functioning at levels that extend beneath the floor of 50 in previous work. At the dawn of newborn screening and amidst a proliferation of new therapies for MPS I, these data can provide crucial benchmark information for developing treatments, particularly for areas of the world where transplant may not be available.