Cerebral Cavernous Angioma is an abnormal blood vessel in the brain or spinal cord, shaped like a mulberry, that can hemorrhage or grow. It can cause stroke symptoms or seizure in both children and adults.
Based on genealogical research, we believe the family line of Cristóbal Baca, his wife, Ana Maria Pacheco Ortiz through their grandson, Cristobal Baca II & Ana Moreno de Lara Trujillo were the original carriers in New Mexico.
Cavernous angiomas occur sporadically in the general population, but 20 percent are inheritable, and the disease is found at a much higher rate in Hispanic families, particularly in northern New Mexico. Each child of an affected parent has a 50 percent chance of inheriting it.
Today there are tens of thousands of individuals related to the original founders who are now living with what we call the Common Hispanic Mutation (CHM).
Most are likely undiagnosed.
Because of geography, the original families of New Mexico tended to stay in the area, and we have found more affected families in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado than anywhere else in the world.
Each year more children are born with CHM. Many, if not most, families go undiagnosed. Symptoms of the illness are widely variable, and it wasn’t until 1995 that the shared gene in this population was identified.
Since then, the University of New Mexico has been the center of research to understand the features of the illness in this group.
Angioma Alliance, the University of New Mexico, the University of California San Francisco, and the Barrow Neurological Institute are partners in a 10-year consortium project to understand the natural history of the illness and look for factors that could account for differences in severity of the illness even within the same family.
New Mexico’s Hispanic population is unique. Their bloodlines aren’t traced to Mexico; instead, they descend from Spain’s Hispanic conquistadors that colonized the region.
Dr. Leslie Morrison, UNM neurologist, suspects there are thousands of people in the state that have the disease, many of whom are undiagnosed. And since the Southwest has the only known large cluster of this disease, Morrison says the likely reason is that CCM originated in the New World as a result of one Hispanic couple.