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Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2011 Sep;24(5):387-97. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328349bb77.

Fragile X syndrome: lifespan developmental implications for those without as well as with intellectual disability.

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St. George's & Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, South London & Maudsley Foundation NHS Trust, UK National Autistic Society, London, UK.



Advances in developmental neuropsychiatry and the mental health needs of people with intellectual disability are creating ever greater understanding of the critical associations between human genome variations and psychological functioning throughout lifespan and across the entire intellectual ability spectrum. This review highlights the recent developments and their clinical implications for people with fragile X syndrome.


There is substantial evidence for individuals of all ages and intellectual abilities being prone to psychological profiles determined not only by having a fragile X gene full mutation, but also by having premutations and intermediate alleles. The importance of these genetic contributors to mental life, if anything, increases with age. Premutation carriers are prone to neurodegenerative mid-life fragile X tremor-ataxia syndrome. Women with premutations experience premature ovarian insufficiency. Imbalances in the (gamma amino butyrie acid)-glutamate mediated postsynaptic cascade central neuronal pathways are a current focus of psychopharmacological enquiry, giving the hope of syndrome-specific medical treatments.


Findings from genetic, neurological, biochemical, psychological and pharmacological research are combining to revolutionize understanding of the pathogenesis of developmental and psychological disabilities affecting individuals with fragile X syndrome irrespective of age, intelligence level and gene mutation status. Results of syndrome-specific medication trials are awaited.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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