CHARGE syndrome (formerly known as CHARGE association), is a syndrome caused by a genetic disorder. It was first described in 1979.
In 1981, the term "CHARGE" came into use as an acronym for the set of unusual congenital features seen in a number of newborn children. The letters stand for: Coloboma of the eye, Heart defects, Atresia of the nasal choanae, Retardation of growth and/or development, Genital and/or urinary abnormalities, and Ear abnormalities and deafness. These features are no longer used in making a diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome, but the name remains.
History of CHARGE
Dr. B.D. Hall first described the CHARGE association in a 1979 journal paper about 17 children who had all been born with choanal atresia
. About the same time, Dr. H.M. Hittner also observed that the group of 10 children in a study all had choanal atresia as well as coloboma, congenital heart defect, and hearing loss. Using both a coloboma or choanal atresia and some of the other related characteristic malformations, Dr. R. A. Pagon first coined the term CHARGE. In choosing this acronym, Dr. Pagon intended to emphasize that this cluster of associated malformations occurred together. It soon came to be recognised as a syndrome within the umbrella of the CHARGE association. While an association is a set of apparently random signs occurring together, the signs seen in CHARGE are caused by a genetic anomaly and so its name was officially corrected to 'CHARGE syndrome'.
CHARGE syndrome was formerly referred to as CHARGE association, which indicates a non-random pattern of congenital anomalies that occurs together more frequently than one would expect on the basis of chance. Very few people with CHARGE will have 100% of its known features. In 2004, mutations on the CHD7
gene (located on Chromosome 8
) were found in 10 of 17 patients in a study conducted in the Netherlands, making CHARGE an official "syndrome". A further study in the US of 110 individuals with CHARGE syndrome showed that 60% of those tested had a mutation on the CHD7 gene.
Although genetic testing positively identifies nearly 2/3 of the total number of children with CHARGE, diagnosis is still largely clinical. The acronym CHARGE was coined in 1981 to describe a cluster of features identified in a number of children. The following are the signs that were originally identified in children with this syndrome, but these features alone are no longer used in official diagnosis.
CHARGE syndrome has an estimated prevalence
of one in ten thousand.
Therapy and outcome
Children with CHARGE syndrome can have many life threatening issues, with advance in medical care these children can survive and become healthy and happy individuals. Appropriate therapies and educational intervention that is given to individuals with CHARGE syndrome must take into consideration hearing, vision and any other medical conditions that are present. Early intervention, such as occupational and physical therapy is very important as the intelligence of children with multiple health issues such as combined deaf-blindness is often underestimated. Because of the developmental delay, early intervention would play an important role in mobility, improving static postures, transitioning towards ambulation, and teaching self care skills. Both physicians and parents need to be made aware that these children can thrive with the support of a team of medical professionals. Management should be by a multidisciplinary team and coordinated by a single person, if possible.
Parents of children with CHARGE should be encouraged to become IN CHARGE and very active advocates for their children in order to ensure that an educational program is developed that will allow each child to reach their full potential. Children with CHARGE will vary greatly in their abilities in the classroom: some may need very little support, while some may require full time support and individualized programs.
In an educational setting, all involved must be aware of the various systems in the body that can be affected with CHARGE syndrome. Taking each of these into account is vital to the success of the child in an educational setting.
A professional packet for educators of students with CHARGE syndrome is available for download at CHARGE Syndrome Professional Packet This packet covers a wide variety of issues educators and therapists in educational settings may face if they have a student with CHARGE in their classroom.
Parents, teachers and caregivers should understand that all behaviors, whether good or bad, are a form of communication. An important step in dealing with the behavior is understanding why it is occurring in the first place and helping the child learn more appropriate methods of communication
Transitioning into adulthood
Parents should make sure that before their child reaches 18 (or year of majority for their country), that they have established doctors and specialists who will follow the child after they have reached adulthood. Even if the young adult with CHARGE is independent, it’s important to help them maintain their independence by helping them move from the pediatric doctors to the new doctors who will follow them as adults. It is not recommended to rely on hospitals to do that for the parents.