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Am J Med Genet A. 2012 Feb;158A(2):358-66. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.34405. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

The behavioral phenotype of Mowat-Wilson syndrome.

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Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Mowat-Wilson syndrome (MWS) is caused by a heterozygous mutation or deletion of the ZEB2 gene. It is characterized by a distinctive facial appearance in association with intellectual disability (ID) and variable other features including agenesis of the corpus callosum, seizures, congenital heart defects, microcephaly, short stature, hypotonia, and Hirschsprung disease. The current study investigated the behavioral phenotype of MWS. Parents and carers of 61 individuals with MWS completed the Developmental Behavior Checklist. Data were compared with those for individuals selected from an epidemiological sample of people with ID from other causes. The behaviors associated with MWS included a high rate of oral behaviors, an increased rate of repetitive behaviors, and an under-reaction to pain. Other aspects of the MWS behavioral phenotype are suggestive of a happy affect and sociable demeanor. Despite this, those with MWS displayed similarly high levels of behavioral problems as those with intellectual disabilities from other causes, with over 30% showing clinically significant levels of behavioral or emotional disturbance. These findings have the potential to expand our knowledge of the role of the ZEB2 gene during neurodevelopment. Furthermore, they are a foundation for informing interventions and management options to enhance the independence and quality of life for persons with MWS.

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