Turner syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the lack of all or part of one of a girl's two X chromosomes.
Turner syndrome only affects females. Because those with Turner syndrome lack the normal number of chromosomes, the body's natural balance is upset. This results in underdevelopment of the ovaries, breasts, uterus and vagina.
Those with this disorder are infertile and are shorter than average, usually under five feet tall. This disorder usually does not cause mental retardation, but some have learning disabilities. They also may have confusion about space and distances.
The most common features of Turner syndrome are: short staturefailure to develop sexuallypuffiness of the backs of the hands and feet at birthcongenital heart diseaselow hairline on the back of the neckexcess skin or webbing of the neckpigmented mole-like lesions on the skinkidney defectsshort fourth fingersinability to fully extend the elbows
Turner syndrome is caused when a fertilized egg is missing one of the sex chromosomes. Most people have forty-six chromosomes in the nucleus of each cell of their bodies. These chromosomes exist in matched pairs, meaning there are 23 pairs.
One of these 23 pairs determines whether a person will be a male or a female. This pair is called the sex chromosome pair. The sex chromosomes are designated by letters.
The letter X designates the chromosome associated with being female.
The letter Y designates the chromosome associated with being male.
Most females have two X chromosomes, while most males have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome.
If the only sex chromosome present is an X, the person will be a female with the Turner syndrome. Since one of the sex chromosomes is missing in Turner syndrome, the body's natural balance is upset, causing the problems in growth and development described above.
Turner syndrome is seen in 1 in 10,000 live births. It is much more common at conception, however, indicating that usually, Turner syndrome is fatal before birth.
Turner syndrome is caused by a chromosomal abnormality that is present at conception. Therefore, there is no way to prevent Turner syndrome. Genetic counseling is useful for affected individuals and their families.
A healthcare professional may suspect that a newborn has Turner syndrome if the baby is small and has puffy hands and feet.
In older females, underdeveloped ovaries may lead her healthcare professional to suspect Turner syndrome. While measurement of certain hormones are useful, chromosome analysis is the definitive diagnostic test.
Long-term effects can include: infertilitydiabetes, a disorder characterized by altered levels of sugar in the bloodthyroid diseasehigh blood pressure
Life span is usually normal once an individual with Turner syndrome is born alive.
Turner syndrome is not contagious. Since females with Turner syndrome are usually infertile, there is little risk that they will pass the disorder on to any children.
Treatments include: growth hormoneestrogenanabolic steroids
Treatment must be timed carefully to assure maximum growth and normal mental development. Surgery may be necessary to treat whatever birth defects are present. If a learning disability is present, special education may be needed.
If the timing of treatment is not balanced carefully, there may be premature closure of the growth plates of bones, leading to excessively short stature. Aggressive estrogen therapy may cause tenderness of the breasts and lead to high blood pressure.
Treatment for growth can be stopped after adult height is reached. Treatment to stimulate secondary sexual characteristics, such as the breasts, must continue throughout life.
Treatment is monitored by growth measurements, x-rays, and hormone levels.
Stevenson RE, Hall JG, and Goodman RM: Human Malformations and Related Anomalies. Oxford University Press, 1993