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Multiple Hereditary Exostoses (MHE) is an inherited disorder of bone growth.
People who have MHE grow exostoses or bony bumps on their bones that can vary in size, location and number depending on the individual.
Although any bone can be affected, the long bones: legs, arms, fingers, toes, ribs; pelvis and shoulder blades are the most common.
MHE can be referred to by various names such as Heredity Multiple Exostoses, Hereditary Multiple Osteochondromata, Multiple Cartilaginous Exostoses, etc.
An exostosis is a benign bone growth that is abnormal or different than the underlying architecture of the bone.
These bone growths generally grow out or at an angle from the normal bone. Sometimes doctors refer to exostoses as "tumors" which like "exostoses" is a general term meaning abnormal growth. It is important to remember that not all tumors are cancer.
Most tumors like the exostoses of MHE are benign.
Exostoses grow near the growth centers of the bones which are near the ends of the bones.
That is why many bumps grow near joints.
Exostoses can be rounded or sharp and will continue to grow while a child is growing.
This condition is not contagious. MHE is a condition that is passed by the genes of the affected parents to their children.
It is called an "autosomal dominant" disorder which means that if one parent has the condition, chances are fifty percent that their child could also develop MHE. Occasionally, a person can develop multiple exostoses with no family history of MHE.
This situation is described as a spontaneous mutation meaning a genetic problem arose in that person without being inherited from a parent.
Some children will have few if any symptoms while others are severely affected and will have a great deal of difficulty.
Because the bone growths can cluster around joints, children with MHE can have a great deal of difficulty with normal movements such as walking, running, lifting, carrying, bending joints, kneeling, grasping and arm and leg rotation.
Tumors can grow and increase at any time, but particularly during growth spurts.
A child who has no problem with a movement one day may find that movement restricted the next and then back to not being a problem the day after that.
A tumor may also grow in such a way as to create an entirely new restriction on a child's mobility.
For example, a child who was able to sit in a certain position during the last semester may not be able to sit in that same position this semester, or in the future.
A child who could run may not be able to do so following tumor growth.
Some mobility problems may be corrected by surgery, but some may become lifelong limitations.
Parents as well as teachers working with children with MHE must be aware of the changing nature of this disorder.
While children with MHE may seem extremely fidgety, they may be simply trying to get comfortable. Many tumors cannot be seen and their affects can be subtle.
One child with MHE may have multiple tumors at many different sites in the body, while another child may have only one or two tumors.
No one yet understands why different people are affected differently at different parts of their body.
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