FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome)

FKTN-related disorders are part of a family of muscle disorders caused by changes to a particular protein called alpha-dystroglycan. Symptoms of FKTN-related disorders include progressive muscle weakness, particularly in the limbs and sometimes the heart and lungs; and changes in the brain that can delay development and cause intellectual disability and seizures.

Walker-Warburg syndrome (WWS) and Fukuyama congenital muscular syndrome (FCMD) are two FKTN-related disorders, which usually affect people from the time they are born. Those who are most severely affected never learn to stand or walk and sadly, often don't survive beyond childhood. People with a milder form of these conditions are able to walk, but usually require a wheelchair in later life and may experience problems with their heart.

Quick facts about FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome)
Genes: FKTN
Inheritance: Autosomal Recessive
Alternative Names: FCMD, Walker-Warburg syndrome, WWS, Fukuyama congenital muscular dystrophy, muscular dystrophy-dystroglycanopathy type C4, muscular dystrophy-dystroglycanopathy type A4, muscular dystrophy-dystroglycanopathy type B4
Relevant resources for FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome)

A quick genetics rundown

As humans we have about 23,000 genes. These genes are like tiny instruction manuals that influence our health, growth and development. We inherit half of our genes from our biological mum and the other half from our biological dad. These genes are lined up on structures called chromosomes. Most of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes. The first 22 pairs are called autosomes and for the most part - these are the same among men and women. The 23rd pair determine our sex - two X chromosomes for a female and one X and one Y chromosome for males.

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How is FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome) inherited?

FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome) is known as an autosomal recessive condition. For autosomal recessive conditions, if a person has a variation in one copy of their gene, they are a carrier. This means that they are healthy because they also have a working copy of the gene. But, they can still pass their non-working copy to their child.

If the other parent also happens to be a carrier of the same gene, there is a 25% (1 in 4) chance that they both pass this gene variation on to their child — and as such, have a child affected by the disease.

If both parents are carriers of FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome), there’s a one in four chance that their children could develop symptoms.
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What is carrier screening?

Carrier testing is like a checkup for your genes. It tests to see if you carry a gene variation that could cause a serious genetic disease in your child. Eugene offers an inclusive genetic carrier screening panel that includes FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome), but there's a total 301 conditions that can be tested.

Eugene’s carrier test is a clinical grade test that can be done from the comfort of your own home — it’s just a saliva test. You're also paired with a genetic counsellor who provides mindful support and guidance every step of the way.

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Should parents screen for FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome) before or early in pregnancy?

The biggest benefit of screening for FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome) is that it can help future parents understand their reproductive risk so they can be ready and empowered to make more informed decisions. If neither partner are carriers, it provides reassurance and peace of mind that the risk of having a child with a genetic disease is low.

Since 90% of children that have a recessive genetic disease like FKTN-related disorders (including Walker-Warburg syndrome) had no previous family history of it, it often feels completely out of the blue for the parents. Getting screened is a way to know this risk in advance, which can help familes manage or even prevent the disease in the first place.

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