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Am J Med Genet A. 2007 Oct 15;143A(20):2478-89.

Studies of age-correlated features of cognitive-behavioral development in children and adolescents with genetic disorders.

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NYU Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing, New York, New York 10010, USA.


Studies of age-related features of cognitive-behavioral deficits produced by genetic mutations permit us to draw inferences about how brain development may be related cognitive ability as the child ages. Except for Down syndrome (DS) and the fragile X mutation (FRAXA), little is known about the longitudinal changes in cognitive-behavioral development in individuals with genetic abnormalities producing learning disabilities (LD) or mental retardation (MR). The purpose of this prospective study was to compare and contrast age related to cognitive abilities, adaptive and maladaptive behaviors in children and adolescents in the same age range, diagnosed with one of three genetic disorders: the FRAXA mutation, Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) or Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS). We also sought to examine whether cognitive-behavioral abilities associated with these three genetic disorders were related systematically to age. We examined 108 children, ages 4-15 years, with FRAXA, WBS, or NF1. Results show that there is a significant negative correlation between age and IQ, and between age and adaptive behavior (DQ) scores, in children with FRAXA and WBS, but not in children with NF1. All three groups of children have unusually high proportions of maladaptive behavior, ranging from 1/6 children with NF1 to 2/3 children with FRAXA. Cognitive and adaptive behavior profiles of children with FRAXA and WBS were also surprisingly similar. Our findings suggest the need for examining longitudinal developmental cognitive-behavioral changes in children and adolescents with all genetic disorders that produce LD or MR.

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