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What Is Rett Syndrome?

Learn about Rett Syndrome from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video.


Rett syndrome is a very rare neurodevelopmental condition that typically affects females. Common signs of Rett disorder are the unique features of the hands and feet, as well as the head, which tend to be very small. There's a deceleration of growth. Children diagnosed with Rett syndrome also have seizures about 80 percent of the time and also difficulties with bone structure and growth that causes scoliosis.

Children with Rett syndrome almost always are nonverbal and have extremely low cognitive functioning. It's more common that children that do have Rett syndrome are under medical care of their pediatric neurologist. And the prognostic outcome is not as positive as it is for the other pervasive developmental disorders.

Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that primarily affects the gray matter of the brain. It's far more common in girls. However, it's a very rare disorder. Some of the common features of Rett syndrome are small hands and feet and a regression of growth in head size. Children are also diagnosed with having microencephaly. Another common feature of Rett syndrome is children typically have very rapid and fidgety hand movements, wringing of the hands and oftentimes, like to put their hands in their mouth.

Other aspects of Rett syndrome also are seizures. About 80 percent of girls diagnosed with Rett syndrome do have seizures. There are other growth and development problems such as scoliosis because of poor bone development. In addition, children with Rett syndrome are commonly not vocal. Only about 50 percent are ambulatory. Their cognitive abilities are usually quite impaired.

Overall, Rett syndrome is a very rare disorder, but I wanted to give you some of the common features of this disorder.

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