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Medicine (Baltimore). 1983 Mar;62(2):59-80.

The Prader-Willi syndrome: a study of 40 patients and a review of the literature.


Forty patients with the Prader-Willi syndrome have been examined. The typical features begin in gestational life with poor fetal vigor and difficulties with birth and post-partum feeding. The classical features of hypotonia, small hands and feet, cryptorchidism can be identified at this time. The delayed milestones, mental retardation and obesity become more prominent later. The average height of the patients in this series who were admitted to the Clinical Study Center was 149 cm and their weight was 114 kg. The weight and height curves show that Prader-Willi individuals are consistently shorter and heavier than normal children. Tests of endocrine function showed normal glucose tolerance. Insulin secretion was increased in relation to obesity. The rise in growth hormone (hGH) after injecting insulin to induce hypoglycemia and after the infusion of arginine was comparable to other obese individuals but was low in comparison to normal weight subjects. There was no rise in growth hormone with L-dopa administration, but there was a rise in hGH with the administration of 2-deoxy-D-glucose. The hypoglycemia produced by insulin was greater in the Prader-Willi patient than in obese controls. The rise in TRH (thyrotropin-releasing hormone) following the injection of TSH (thyrotropin stimulating hormone) was greater in the Prader-Willi patients than in the obese controls. Hypogonadism was routine in this series, and the response to LRH (luteinizing releasing hormone) was absent in all tested subjects. Treatment with clomiphene for 30 to 90 days significantly increased the response to LRH in three adult individuals who had not been treated with gonadal steroids previously and who were hypogonadal. Rectal temperature declined in three of the five Prader-Willi patients during exposure to an ambient temperature of 4 degrees C, but none of the three obese controls showed a decline. Food intake averaged 5167 kcal/d when six patients were given trays containing more food than they could eat. Food intake was not reduced when tryptophan was added to the diet. Salivary secretion was reduced in the Prader-Willi patients. A number of pulmonary function tests were significantly reduced in the study patients compared to obese or normal weight controls. The anatomic findings in four autopsied patients with the Prader-Willi syndrome showed no significant differences from those of obese subjects without this syndrome. The chromosomal pattern showed a deletion or translocation at chromosome 15 in 3 of 12 patients in whom this test was performed. These findings in 40 patients with the Prader-Willi syndrome have been compared with the information contained in 159 reports published in the medical literature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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