Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder that occurs in approximately one out of every 15,000 births. PWS affects males and females with equal frequency and affects all races and ethnicities. It is recognized as the most common genetic cause of life-threatening childhood obesity.
- Failure to thrive in infancy
- Hypotonia (low muscle tone)
- Hyperphagia (constant drive to eat)
- Lower metabolic rate (leading to easy weight gain)
- Food seeking behavior
- Cognitive challenges/low IQ
- Short stature
- Small hands and feet
- Sleep disturbances
- High pain threshold
- Speech Apraxia
- Adults at risk for mental illness
The symptoms of Prader-Willi syndrome are likely due to dysfunction of a portion of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a small endocrine organ at the base of the brain that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions, including regulating hunger and satiety, body temperature, pain, sleep-wake balance, fluid balance, emotions, and fertility.