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      Sudden Death in Prader-Willi Syndrome during Growth Hormone Therapy


      Hormone Research in Paediatrics

      S. Karger AG

      Growth hormone therapy, Prader-Willi syndrome, Sudden death

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          We describe a child with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) aged 3 years and 11 months who suddenly died 7 months after the initiation of GH therapy. The child never showed respiratory problems, but suffered from severe obesity. This case raises the question about the association between sudden death in children with PWS (with or without respiratory problems) and GH therapy, as already suspected in the recent past. We suggest that further epidemiological studies are required in order to determine more accurately the frequency of this causal connection and better understand its pathogenesis.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Prader-Willi syndrome: causes of death in an international series of 27 cases.

          Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a complex condition with many medical and psychological features. In individuals with this syndrome, causes of death were studied. Data of 27 case reports were collected. Ages at death ranged from neonatal to 68 years. None of the individuals were treated with growth hormone (GH). Most cases were not completely documented and autopsy was performed in a minority of cases only. In five cases, death was considered not to be causally related to PWS. Hypotonia with hypoventilation was noted in the babies, and acute respiratory illness with unexpected sudden death was experienced in young children with PWS. Two young children died after a short period of fever and gastroenteritis. Obesity and its complications leading to death were pronounced in the adult group. One (possibly two) adult(s) died from gastric dilatation and shock. Based on these data, some cautious conclusions can be drawn. In babies with PWS hypoventilation is a risk factor; upper airway infection may be more serious than anticipated and any other clinical features pointing to an infection should be taken very seriously. Therefore, young infants with PWS hospitalized with an upper airway infection and/or hypoventilation or gastroenteritis symptoms, should be closely monitored. Early diagnosis and prevention of overweight is a major factor in preventing early causes of death in individuals with PWS. In the adult group, weight reduction is important but difficult to manage. Sleep apnea should be recognized and treated. Pain in the upper stomach and/or vomiting should be taken as a possible sign of acute intestinal dilatation; intravenous support may be life saving. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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            Sudden death in growth hormone-treated children with Prader-Willi syndrome.

            A 4-year-old boy with Prader-Willi syndrome died suddenly while asleep on day 67 of growth hormone treatment. During treatment, snoring had worsened. Autopsy showed multifocal bronchopneumonia. This case and two others recently published suggest that growth hormone may be associated with obstructive apnea, respiratory infection, and sudden death in this condition.
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              Unexpected death and critical illness in Prader-Willi syndrome: report of ten individuals.

              Individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) generally survive into adulthood. Common causes of death are obesity related cor pulmonale and respiratory failure. We report on a case series of eight children and two adults with unexpected death or critical illness. Our data show age-specific characteristics of PWS patients with fatal or life-threatening illnesses. Under the age of 2 years, childhood illnesses in general were associated with high fever and rapid demise or near-demise. Hypothalamic dysfunction likely plays a role in exaggerated fever response, but also perhaps in central regulation of adrenal function. Below average sized adrenal glands were found in three children, which raises the possibility of unrecognized adrenal insufficiency in a subset of individuals with PWS and emphasizes the vital role of autopsy. The tub drowning death of an adult patient could be related to central hypersomnia, which has been reported in PWS. We suggest that increased risk for critical illness be considered in the discussion of anticipatory guidance for the care of infants with PWS. Since a number of children died while hospitalized, particularly close observation of PWS children who are ill enough to warrant hospital admission is recommended. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                January 2005
                20 January 2005
                : 63
                : 1
                : 29-32
                Division of Paediatrics, IRCCS ‘Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza’, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
                82525 Horm Res 2005;63:29–32
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Figures: 1, References: 13, Pages: 4
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