Williams SyndromeWilliams syndrome is a genetic disorder which is caused by missing genes. People with Williams syndrome can have mild or moderate mental retardation, learning problems and physical and developmental problems. You may notice that your child develops slowly, that he/she has problems with feeding, vomits a lot, gets distracted or irritated easily and that speech is delayed. Other symptoms which develop later include distinctive facial appearance, specific personality, narrow shoulders and they are short. The facial features include a short nose with flattened bridge and broad tip, wide mouth, full lips, broader forehead and full cheeks. People with Williams syndrome also have problems with their teeth which are usually crooked, spaced and there are some teeth missing. Personality of the people with Williams syndrome is usually friendly, sociable, trusting and outgoing. People with this disorder also show interest in other people, music and language.
Health ProblemsBesides physical and mental characteristic, people with Williams syndrome may develop certain problems with health. Problems with heart may occur, such as heart murmurs, narrowing of the blood vessels and other problems. Problems with digestion and pain in the abdomen are also common. Calcium level in the blood is also higher than normal. Other possible problems with health are hormonal imbalance, thyroid gland problems, sensitive hearing and musculoskeletal or kidney problems, stiffness of joints and curved spine. People with Williams syndrome may also have vision problems, especially difficulties with understanding complex spatial relations.
TreatmentThere is no cure for Williams syndrome, but there are treatments and therapies which can help an individual to deal with the symptoms and health problems. Since the level of calcium is elevated in case of Williams syndrome, the patient should be treated to bring calcium level to normal. Narrowing of the blood vessels and other heart problems must be treated and monitored, but the treatment depends on the severity of the condition. In case of stiff joints or other musculoskeletal problems, physical therapy is recommended. Speech therapy or developmental therapy can also help children with Williams syndrome.
LifestylePeople with Williams syndrome can function on their own. They can live with a caregiver in a supervised home or, in mild cases, they can live alone. Therapies should start as soon as the syndrome is diagnosed. People with Williams syndrome can finish school and learn skills which can help them later in life. With proper medical care for potential health problems and support, such people can lead fulfilled lives.