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Edwards Syndrome

What is It?

Edwards Syndrome, otherwise known as Trisomy 18, occurs when there is extra material from chromosome 18, which came from either the father's sperm or the mother's egg. The extra material affects normal development. This syndrome is three times more common in girls than in boys.

Approximately 1 in every 5,000 babies is born with this syndrome, but most are female. Half of the infants that are diagnosed with this condition do not survive beyond the first week of life. The babies who do survive can live to become teenagers but often have serious medical complications.

There are three types of Trisomy 18. Full Trisomy is the most common and the extra material exists in every cell of the baby's body. Partial Trisomy and Mosaic Trisomy are more rare. Partial is when the child only has part of an extra chromosome and Mosaic is when the child only has extra of chromosome 18 in some of the cells of the body.

Babies born with Edwards Syndrome are small and frail, and may have any of the following: a cleft palate, clenched hands, low set ears, poorly developed fingernails, microcephaly (small head), small jaw, deformed feet, unusual shaped chest (pectus carinatum), and other deformities. These babies will also have a weak cry when they are born and throughout the time they live. As well as these obvious signs, their internal organs will be affected as well. Abnormalities of the heart, lungs, diaphragm, blood vessels, and kidneys are all common with Edwards Syndrome.

Learning Support

Since 50% of the babies are stillborn and the other 50% who are born do not survive much longer than the first week of life, we will not see many of these children in school. See developmental disabilities for learning support ideas.