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    Trisomy 18

    Edwards syndrome

    Trisomy 18 is a genetic disorder in which a person has a third copy of material from chromosome 18, instead of the usual two copies.


    Trisomy 18 is a somewhatcommon syndrome. It is three times more common in girls than boys.

    The syndrome occurs when there is extra material from chromosome 18. The extra material affects normal development.


    • Clenched hands
    • Crossed legs
    • Feet with a rounded bottom (rocker-bottom feet)
    • Low birth weight
    • Low-set ears
    • Mental delay
    • Poorly developed fingernails
    • Small head (microcephaly)
    • Small jaw (micrognathia)
    • Undescended testicle
    • Unusual shaped chest (pectus carinatum)

    Exams and Tests

    An exam during pregnancy may show an unusually large uterus and extra amniotic fluid. There may be an unusually small placenta when the baby is born.

    A physical exam of the infant may show unusual fingerprint patterns. X-rays may show a short breast bone. Chromosome studies will show trisomy 18, partial trisomy, or translocation.

    Other signs include:

    • Hole, split, or cleft in the iris of the eye (coloboma)
    • Separation between the left and right side of the abdominal muscle (diastasis recti)
    • Umbilical hernia or inguinal hernia

    There are often signs of congenital heart disease, such as:

    • Atrial septal defect (ASD)
    • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
    • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

    Tests may also show kidney problems, including:

    • Horseshoe kidney
    • Hydronephrosis
    • Polycystic kidney


    Treatment of children with trisomy 18 is planned on a case-by-case basis. Which treatments are used depend on the patient's individual condition.

    Support Groups

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Half of infants with this condition do not survive beyond the first week of life. Some children have survived to the teenage years, but with serious medical and developmental problems.

    Possible Complications

    Complications depend on the specific defects and symptoms.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Genetic counseling can help families understand the condition, the risks of inheriting it, and how to care for the patient.


    Tests can be done during pregnancy tofind outif the child has this syndrome.

    Genetic testing is recommended for parents who have a child with this syndrome and who want to have more children.


    • Syndactyly


      • Syndactyly


      Tests for Trisomy 18

        Review Date: 7/8/2012

        Reviewed By: Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD,FACMG, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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