Kennedy Disease

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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It is possible that the main title of the report Kennedy Disease is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • KD
  • Kennedy's syndrome
  • SBMA
  • spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy
  • spinal bulbar muscular atrophy
  • X-linked spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy
  • X-linked spinal bulbar muscular atrophy
  • Spinobulbar muscular atrophy
  • X-linked spinobulbar muscular atrophy

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Kennedy disease is a rare, X-linked slowly progressive neuromuscular disorder. Kennedy disease is typically an adult-onset disease, where symptoms occur mainly between the ages of 20 and 50. The disease is characterized by symptoms such as muscle weakness and cramps in the arms, legs, and facial area, enlarged breasts, and difficulty with speaking and swallowing (dysphagia). Kennedy disease affects fewer than 1 in 150,000 males and does not typically occur in females, who are protected by their low levels of circulating testosterone, accounting for the sex-limited inheritance pattern in this disorder. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive, and life expectancy is normal, though a small percentage of patients (~ 10%) succumb to the disease in their 60's or 70's due to swallowing complications (aspiration pneumonia, asphyxiation) resulting from the bulbar weakness.


Kennedy disease is named after William R. Kennedy, MD, who described this condition in an abstract in 1966 and a full report in 1968.

Supporting Organizations

Cure SMA

925 Busse Road
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Tel: (847)367-7620
Tel: (800)886-1762

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311

Kennedy's Disease Association, Inc.

P.O. Box 1105
Coarsegold, CA 93614-1105
Tel: (559)658-5950
Fax: (559)658-5950

Muscular Dystrophy Association

3300 East Sunrise Drive
Tucson, AZ 85718-3208
Tel: (520)529-2000
Fax: (520)529-5300
Tel: (800)572-1717

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424

National Ataxia Foundation

2600 Fernbrook Lane Suite 119
Minneapolis, MN 55447
Tel: (763)553-0020
Fax: (763)553-0167

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated:  1/6/1970
Copyright  2015 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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Kennedy Disease