Natural history and parental experience of children with trisomy 18 based on a questionnaire given to a Japanese trisomy 18 parental support group


  • Conflict of interest: none.

Correspondence to:

Tomoki Kosho, M.D., Department of Medical Genetics, Shinshu University School of Medicine, 3-1-1 Asahi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-8621, Japan. E-mail:


We conducted a questionnaire-based study in collaboration with a Japanese trisomy 18 parental support group. Sixty-five children (female, 68%) with full trisomy 18 were evaluated. Diagnosis was made prenatally in 17% (11/65) and 57% (37/65) were born following a cesarean. The mean gestational age at delivery was 38 weeks and 6 days, and the mean birth weight was 1,920 g (−2.6SD). A total of 51% (24/47) of children had apneic episodes. Thirteen children experienced generalized seizures, and a minority was seizure-free with medication. Parents of 36% (18/50) of children were offered intensive treatment. A total of 45% (27/60) of children received intermittent mandatory ventilation, which was weaned off in half of them. Nine had surgeries, including esophageal atresia/omphalocele correction, cardiac surgery, and tracheostomy. A total of 15% (8/55) were fed fully orally, and 45% (29/64) were discharged home. Slow but constant psychomotor development was observed, and in four long-term survivors over 10 years, two walked unassisted. Factors significantly associated with survival over 1 year included diagnosis after birth, absence of prematurity, heavier birth weight, absence of esophageal atresia, extubation, ability to feed orally without medical assistance, and home discharge. Parents appeared to be positive about caring for their children, and the children seemed to interact with parents and siblings as long as they lived, resulting in quality family time. The family point of view, as well as knowledge of natural history, should be considered when policy statements about the care of children with trisomy 18 are made. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.