This review focuses on the "pure" hereditary peripheral neuropathies where peripheral nerve disease is the main manifestation and does not address neurodegenerative disorders associated with but not dominated by peripheral neuropathy. Aetiologies of childhood-onset peripheral neuropathies differ from those of adult-onset, with more inherited conditions, especially autosomal recessive. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is the commonest neuromuscular disorder. The genetic labels of CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth) disease types 1-4 are the preferred sub-type terms. Clinical presentations and molecular genetic heterogeneity of hereditary peripheral neuropathies are diverse. For most patients worldwide, diagnostic studies are limited to clinical assessment. Such markers which could be used to identify specific sub-types include presentation in early childhood, scoliosis, marked sensory involvement, respiratory compromise, upper limb involvement, visual or hearing impairment, pyramidal signs and mental retardation. These key markers may assist targeted genetic testing and aid in diagnosing children where DNA testing is not possible.
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