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CHILD syndrome
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Congenital hemidysplasia with ichthyosiform erythroderma and limb defects

(also known as CHILD syndrome)
Reviewed July 2008

What is CHILD syndrome?

Congenital hemidysplasia with ichthyosiform erythroderma and limb defects, more commonly known by the acronym CHILD syndrome, is a condition that affects the development of several parts of the body. The signs and symptoms of this disorder are typically limited to either the right side or the left side of the body. ("Hemi-" means "half," and "dysplasia" refers to abnormal growth.) The right side is affected about twice as often as the left side.

People with CHILD syndrome have a skin condition characterized by large patches of skin that are red and inflamed (erythroderma) and covered with flaky scales (ichthyosis). This condition is most likely to occur in skin folds and creases and usually does not affect the face. The skin abnormalities are present at birth and persist throughout life.

CHILD syndrome also disrupts the formation of the arms and legs during early development. Children with this disorder may be born with one or more limbs that are shortened or missing. The limb abnormalities occur on the same side of the body as the skin abnormalities.

Additionally, CHILD syndrome may affect the development of the brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys.

How common is CHILD syndrome?

CHILD syndrome is a rare disorder; it has been reported in about 60 people worldwide. This condition occurs almost exclusively in females.

What genes are related to CHILD syndrome?

Mutations in the NSDHL gene cause CHILD syndrome. This gene provides instructions for making an enzyme that is involved in the production of cholesterol. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is produced in the body and obtained from foods that come from animals, particularly egg yolks, meat, fish, and dairy products. Although high cholesterol levels are a well-known risk factor for heart disease, the body needs some cholesterol to develop and function normally both before and after birth. Cholesterol is an important component of cell membranes and the protective substance covering nerve cells (myelin). Additionally, cholesterol plays a role in the production of certain hormones and digestive acids.

The mutations that underlie CHILD syndrome eliminate the activity of the NSDHL enzyme, which disrupts the normal production of cholesterol within cells. A shortage of this enzyme may also allow potentially toxic byproducts of cholesterol production to build up in the body's tissues. Researchers suspect that low cholesterol levels and/or an accumulation of other substances disrupt the growth and development of many parts of the body. It is not known, however, how a disturbance in cholesterol production leads to the specific features of CHILD syndrome.

Read more about the NSDHL gene.

How do people inherit CHILD syndrome?

This condition has an X-linked dominant pattern of inheritance. A condition is considered X-linked if the mutated gene that causes the disorder is located on the X chromosome, one of the two sex chromosomes. The inheritance is dominant if one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition.

Most cases of CHILD syndrome occur sporadically, which means only one member of a family is affected. Rarely, the condition can run in families and is passed from mother to daughter. Researchers believe that CHILD syndrome occurs almost exclusively in females because affected males die before birth. Only one male with CHILD syndrome has been reported.

Where can I find information about treatment for CHILD syndrome?

You might find information on treatment of CHILD syndrome in Educational resources and Patient support.

Where can I find additional information about CHILD syndrome?

You may find the following resources about CHILD 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 CHILD syndrome?

  • Ichthyosiform erythroderma, unilateral, with ipsilateral malformations, especially absence deformity of limbs

What if I still have specific questions about CHILD syndrome?

Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?

What glossary definitions help with understanding CHILD syndrome?

acids ; cell ; cell membrane ; cholesterol ; chromosome ; congenital ; digestive ; dysplasia ; egg ; enzyme ; erythroderma ; gene ; hormone ; ichthyosiform ; ichthyosis ; inheritance ; kidney ; malformation ; mutation ; nerve cell ; pattern of inheritance ; risk factors ; sex chromosomes ; sign ; symptom ; syndrome ; tissue ; toxic ; unilateral ; X-linked dominant

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (8 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.

Reviewed: July 2008
Published: May 11, 2009