What is Williams Syndrome?
Williams syndrome is a congenital disorder that can affect many parts of the body causing developmental and learning problems. Babies born with the syndrome may have a low birth weight and experience difficulties feeding and gaining weight.
Children with the condition tend to have distinctive facial features, that have been described as "elfin". These include: -
- Broad forehead
- Upturned nose
- Wide mouth with full lips
- Widely spaced teeth
- Low nasal bridge
Amongst the first signs of the syndrome are heart and/or blood vessel abnormalities such as high blood pressure.
A condition known as supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS) is frequently diagnosed. This is a narrowing of the aorta, the large blood vessel that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body. If it is not treated it can lead to chest pain, breathing difficulties and eventually heart failure. In some individuals the narrowing is not severe and just needs monitoring.
In addition there may also be connective tissue abnormalities that affect the joints, and calcium levels may be raised in babies.
The incidence of Williams syndrome in the United States is 1 in 7,500 to 20,000 births.