NF Explained

Information, help & support
for those who need it.

NF Explained

Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic condition. This means it belongs to a group of health conditions that can be passed on in families from one generation to the next through the process of genetic inheritance.

NF is caused by a mutation (or spelling mistake) in one of the genes. About half of the people who have NF have no family history. In other words, it has occurred “out of the blue” with no-one else in the family being affected. This is called a spontaneous gene mutation. The other half of people will have inherited NF from their mother or father.

NF occurs in all races. It affects both men (and boys) and women (and girls) equally. NF varies from one person to another even in the same family. Some people will be mildly affected with very few health problems. Others will have some serious health problems that mean that daily life is difficult and it restricts what they can do. With a condition that varies so much, it is important to learn some basic facts about NF, and to understand when you need to seek help from your doctor. It is important therefore that you are clear about the diagnosis that you have been given.

There are differences in the two main groups: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). NF1 and NF2 are separate and different conditions. The health checks and health care needed reflect those differences.

NF Facts

What is Neurofibromatosis?

NF is one of the most common neurological conditions caused by a single gene mutation (a “spelling mistake” in the genetic code). NF occurs in all ethnic backgrounds, in both sexes, throughout the world.

50% of new diagnoses occur without any other member of the family having NF. Doctors call this a spontaneous gene mutation. This means that potentially any baby is at risk of developing NF.

A parent who has NF has a 50% risk (or 1 in 2 chance) of passing NF on to their child.

NF1 and NF2 are separate and distinct conditions and it is important to have a correct diagnosis from a doctor who knows about NF.

Facts about NF1

  • NF1 is a common genetic condition
  • The “spelling mistake” in the gene is found on chromosome 17
  • It occurs in every 1 in 2,500 of the population
  • The early signs of NF1 are cafĂ© au lait spots (flat brown birthmarks) on the skin, freckles in unusual places, and neurofibromas (lumps and bumps) on the skin.
  • One third of people will have one or more medical complication during their lifetime.
  • Mild learning difficulties are common in NF1.

Facts about NF2

  • NF2 is rare genetic condition
  • The “spelling mistake” in the gene is found on chromosome 22
  • It occurs in every 1 in 35,000 of the population
  • NF2 is usually diagnosed by MRI scans
  • In NF2 people develop nervous system tumours (lumps) typically in the brain and spine
  • NF2 can cause hearing loss, deafness, and mobility problems
  • NF is not the “Elephant Man’s Disease,” although it was at one time believed to be. Scientists now believe that John Merrick, the so-called “Elephant Man,” had Proteus Syndrome, an entirely different disorder.

NF Brochures

For additional information you can download our brochures. Just click on a button to open the brochure.