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Reviewed October 2008
What is Emanuel syndrome?
Emanuel syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that disrupts normal development and affects many parts of the body. Infants with Emanuel syndrome have weak muscle tone (hypotonia) and fail to gain weight and grow at the expected rate (failure to thrive). Their development is significantly delayed, and most affected individuals have severe to profound intellectual disability.
Other features of Emanuel syndrome include an unusually small head (microcephaly), distinctive facial features, and a small lower jaw (micrognathia). Ear abnormalities are common, including small holes in the skin just in front of the ears (preauricular pits or sinuses). About half of all affected infants are born with an opening in the roof of the mouth (cleft palate) or a high arched palate. Males with Emanuel syndrome often have genital abnormalities. Additional signs of this condition can include heart defects and absent or unusually small (hypoplastic) kidneys; these problems can be life-threatening in infancy or childhood.
How common is Emanuel syndrome?
Emanuel syndrome is a rare disorder; its prevalence is unknown. More than 100 individuals with this condition have been reported.
What are the genetic changes related to Emanuel syndrome?
Emanuel syndrome is caused by the presence of extra genetic material from chromosome 11 and chromosome 22 in each cell. In addition to the usual 46 chromosomes, people with Emanuel syndrome have an extra (supernumerary) chromosome consisting of a piece of chromosome 11 attached to a piece of chromosome 22. The extra chromosome is known as a derivative 22 or der(22) chromosome.
As a result of the extra chromosome, people with Emanuel syndrome have three copies of some genes in each cell instead of the usual two copies. The excess genetic material disrupts the normal course of development, leading to the characteristic signs and symptoms of this disorder. Researchers are working to determine which genes are included on the der(22) chromosome and what role these genes play in development.
Can Emanuel syndrome be inherited?
Almost everyone with Emanuel syndrome inherits the der(22) chromosome from an unaffected parent. The parent carries a chromosomal rearrangement between chromosomes 11 and 22 called a balanced translocation. No genetic material is gained or lost in a balanced translocation, so these chromosomal changes usually do not cause any health problems. However, translocations can become unbalanced as they are passed to the next generation. Individuals with Emanuel syndrome inherit an unbalanced translocation between chromosomes 11 and 22 that introduces extra genetic material in the form of the der(22) chromosome. This extra genetic material causes birth defects and the other health problems characteristic of this disorder.
Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of Emanuel syndrome?
These resources address the diagnosis or management of Emanuel syndrome and may include treatment providers.
General information about the diagnosis and management of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests.
To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about Emanuel syndrome?
You may find the following resources about Emanuel syndrome helpful. These materials are written for the general public.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for Emanuel syndrome?
What if I still have specific questions about Emanuel syndrome?
Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding Emanuel syndrome?
cell ; chromosome ; cleft palate ; disability ; failure to thrive ; hypotonia ; inherit ; lower jaw ; microcephaly ; micrognathia ; muscle tone ; palate ; preauricular ; prevalence ; rearrangement ; Robertsonian translocation ; syndrome ; translocation
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (7 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.