What is Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS)?

Updated: Oct 14, 2020
  • Author: Ann Scheimann, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Luis O Rohena, MD, MS, FAAP, FACMG  more...
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Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a disorder caused by a deletion or disruption of genes in the proximal arm of chromosome 15 or by maternal disomy in the proximal arm of chromosome 15. Commonly associated characteristics of this disorder include diminished fetal activity, obesity, hypotonia, intellectual disability, short stature, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, strabismus, and small hands and feet. [1]

In 1887, Langdon Down described the first patient with Prader-Willi syndrome as an adolescent girl with mental impairment, short stature, hypogonadism, and obesity and attributed these symptoms to polysarcia. [2] In 1956, Prader et al reported a series of patients with similar phenotypes. [3] In 1981, Ledbetter et al identified deletions located between bands 15q11 and 15q13 and determined it to be the site for Prader-Willi syndrome. [4, 5]

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