What is Prader-Willi Syndrome?

Prader-Willi syndrome is the most common known, genetic cause, of life-threatening obesity in children. Although the cause is complex, it results from an abnormality on the 15th chromosome. It occurs in males and females equally, and in all races.


Prader-Willi syndrome typically causes low muscle tone, short stature if not treated with growth hormone, incomplete sexual development, and a chronic feeling of hunger that, coupled with a metabolism that utilizes drastically fewer calories than normal, can lead to excessive eating and life-threatening obesity. The food compulsion makes constant supervision necessary.


Average IQ is 70, but even those with normal IQs almost all have learning issues. Social and motor deficits also exist. At birth the infant typically has low birth weight, weak muscles, and difficulty sucking, which can lead to a diagnosis of failure to thrive. The second stage, known as thriving too well, has a typical onset between the ages of two and five, but can be later. The extreme unsatisfied drive to consume food lasts throughout the lifetime.


Children with Prader Willi Syndrome have sweet and loving personalities, but this phase is also characterized by increased appetite, weight control issues, and motor development delays, along with some behavior problems, and unique medical issues.


If you have questions, or would like more information, contact the Prader Willi Syndrome Association at 800-926-4797, or visit them online at www.pwsausa.org.


Phone code: 1706

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