Symptoms of Rare Genetic Disorder Prader-Willi Syndrome


Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, results in multiple physical, mental and behavioral problems. The disorder also causes a constant sense of hunger that usually begins at about 2 years of age. This aspect can cause people suffering from the disorder to eat constantly and never experience the feeling of being full.


According to The Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of Prader-Willi syndrome may slowly change over time from childhood to adulthood and can vary among individuals.

In infants, signs and symptoms that may be present from birth include:

  • Poor muscle tone
  • Distinct facial features
  • Poor sucking reflex
  • Generally poor responsiveness
  • Underdeveloped genitals

In early childhood to adulthood, other features of the disorder may include:

  • Food craving and weight gain
  • Underdeveloped sex organs
  • Poor growth and physical development
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Delayed motor development
  • Speech problems
  • Behavioral problems
  • Sleep disorders
  • Small hands and feet
  • Hip problems
  • Reduced saliva flow 
  • Nearsightedness and other vision problems
  • Problems regulating body temperature
  • A high pain tolerance
  • A lack of pigment (hypopigmentation) causing hair, eyes and skin to be pale


The Mayo Clinic recommends regularly scheduled well-baby visits, which can help identify early signs of poor growth and development, which can be signs of Prader-Willi syndrome. They also note, "If you have a child with Prader-Willi syndrome and would like to have another baby, consider seeking genetic counseling. A genetic counselor may help determine your risk of having another child with Prader-Willi syndrome."

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