Neurofibromatosis is an inherited condition characterized by benign tumors in the cells surrounding nerves.
There are two types of neurofibromatosis. Type 1 (also called von Recklinghausen disease) affects many organs in the body including the bones, skin, eyes, and brain. Early warning signs are multiple (six or more) birthmarks, called café-au-lait spots, or freckling in the armpits and groin. If such spots are seen, the child should be evaluated by a neurofibromatosis expert to determine if the marks may be a sign of the condition.
Neurofibromatosis Type 2 usually isn't found until the child is older. The first symptom is often a loss of hearing in the late teens and early 20s. The condition causes tumors to grow on the auditory vestibular nerves. These may also cause balance problems.
NF1 and NF2 are separate, distinct disorders. These conditions affect both men and women of any race or ethnic group. It is estimated that one out of every 2,500 people in the U.S. has Neurofibromatosis Type 1. Type 2 is rarer, affecting approximately one out of every 25,000 people.