A FAMILY is urging everyone to pull on their jeans for charity.

Ann Baty, of Hatch Meadgate, Hook, knows first-hand how just one small change in the genetic make-up can have drastic effects.

The devoted mum is supporting Jeans for Genes day, which is supported by eight national charities and is being held on Friday.

Mrs Baty's four-year-old daughter Lizzie has Rett syndrome, a condition caused by a mutation to one of her genes.

When Lizzie was born there were no signs that she was suffering from the syndrome, which causes severe development problems.

Mrs Baty said: "She was born apparently normal and we thought she was just a very happy, placid baby. It wasn't until she was nine months old that we noticed anything was wrong.

"The milestones you look for as a parent aren't there with Rett. They can start getting them - first words, movement - and then they can stagnate and lose the skills they had developed."

Mrs Baty said that she and her husband Tim were baffled by Lizzie's condition, which was originally diagnosed as a global development delay.

Instead of flourishing like other children of the same age, Lizzie became withdrawn as she became less able to move and communicate.

Mrs Baty said: "It was a very slow process to see things going wrong. It's easy to look back with hindsight and see what was happening.

"She was very withdrawn and miserable because she must have wondered why she could no longer do the things she had been doing."

The family had been to numerous specialists and were receiving help from social services, but it was not until Lizzie was almost two that Rett syndrome was finally confirmed.

Her spine had been twisted because her muscles were not developing correctly.

She cannot walk and wears a brace for her spine, but she is now much more active and happy, and goes to a specialist nursery three times a week.

Mrs Baty said the diagnosis was a mixed blessing because the family now had a name for Lizzie's condition, but it also meant they had to give up any hope that it was temporary blip that would improve with time.

She said that gene disorders are far more common than people might expect, and the cash raised on Jeans for Genes day provides massive benefits for everyone.

She said: "We're all governed by our genes. Some people have a predisposition to develop cancer, other's may have something like Rett syndrome. The research into genes cuts across the whole spectrum.

"Jeans for Genes is something everyone should support because it can affect anyone in any way."

People can support Jeans for Genes by donating to the campaign or wearing denim to work on Friday and paying for the privilege.

For more information, visit www.jeansforgenes.com