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Aim  We set out to describe 17 patients with septo-optic dysplasia (SOD), focusing on the little-explored neurological, cognitive, and neuro-ophthalmological components. A further aim was to identify possible clinical correlations and phenotypic characteristics within the diagnostic spectrum.

Method  We collected clinical-instrumental data (from the history, general and neurological examination, developmental assessment, and neuro-ophthalmological, neuroradiological, neurophysiological, and endocrinological evaluations) on nine males and eight females (mean age 34.4mo, SD 31.6; range 4mo-9y 6mo) diagnosed with SOD who were referred to our Centre of Child Neuro-ophthalmology between 1999 and 2010.

Results  We observed a heterogeneous clinical spectrum characterized by nervous system, visual, and endocrine dysfunctions; optic nerve involvement was present in all 17 children, midline brain defects in 14, and cortical developmental malformations in seven. Developmental/cognitive delay and relational and communication difficulties were observed in eight and seven children, respectively, and reduced visual acuity and oculomotor dysfunction were observed in all. Pituitary hormone deficiencies were present in nine children.

Interpretation  Nervous system involvement emerged as a key feature of SOD. As part of a holistic approach to the disease, particular attention should be paid to this aspect. The emergence of new clinical correlations and correlations between clinical features and three SOD subtypes opens the way for better clarification of this disease and, therefore, more targeted diagnosis, follow-up, and care of affected children.