What is Rett syndrome?


Quick Answer

Rett syndrome is one of the autism spectrum disorders that primarily affects girls, according to Boston Children's Hospital. With Rett syndrome, the child develops normally during the first six to 18 months and then begins regression, losing vocal and motor skills. The condition occurs almost exclusively in girls as it is an X chromosome mutation, and affected males do not normally survive childbirth.

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Full Answer

A slow growing head is one of the first indicators of Rett syndrome, according to WebMD. This symptom is often overlooked so a doctor does not diagnose the condition until the child is between 1 and 4 and her social skills begin to deteriorate. The child often develops social anxiety and stops talking. The syndrome causes walking to become difficult and leads to seizures and difficulty breathing.

Rett syndrome often occurs as a spontaneous gene mutation, according to Mayo Clinic. Due to its spontaneity, the condition can't be prevented, but genetic testing of the child confirms the diagnosis. Medication cannot cure a child who has Rett syndrome, but it is helpful in controlling muscle stiffness and seizures. Physical therapy helps the child to maintain walking skills, and speech therapy teaches her nonverbal means of communication. The syndrome affects the child's dietary needs, and some individuals require tube feeding.

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