Genetic evaluation of pervasive developmental disorders: the terminal 22q13 deletion syndrome may represent a recognizable phenotype


Corresponding author: C Prasad, M.D., Section of Genetics and Metabolism, FE-229, Community Services Building, Health Sciences Centre, 820 Sherbrooke St., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3A 1S1. Tel: +1 204 787 1317; fax: +1 204 787 1419; e-mail:


The evaluation of mental retardation is always a challenge to clinicians. The recognition of specific physical or behavioral characteristics can vastly improve diagnostic yield. Several genetic disorders have been identified to have certain behavioral characteristics, such as Williams syndrome, Smith–Magenis syndrome, and the velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS). The deletion affecting the chromosome 22q in the most distal band (22q13) appears to define yet another neurobehavioral phenotype. In addition to our report, there are about 17 other cases published of this particular deletion syndrome. We describe three children who share features of developmental delay and pervasive behaviors in addition to normal to advanced growth patterns. Results of cytogenetic analysis suggest that the 3 patients share a deletion affecting the terminal 22q13 region. Two were found to have a cryptic deletion, in the third it was detected by conventional cytogenetics. The cryptic deletions were demonstrated using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), where the control probe for the DiGeorge/VCFS region was deleted.
While there remain gaps in our understanding of this particular deletion syndrome, we propose that patients with normal or advanced growth, significantly delayed speech, deviant development and pervasive behaviors, with minor facial dysmorphism, be screened for this deletion.