Many of the possible complications of Prader-Willi syndrome result from obesity. In addition to having constant hunger, people with the disorder have low muscle mass, which requires lower than average calorie needs. This combination of factors makes a person prone to obesity and the medical problems related to obesity. These possible complications include:
- Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is high blood sugar level due to your body's inability to use insulin efficiently. Insulin plays a vital role in making blood sugar (glucose) — your body's fuel — available to your cells. Obesity significantly increases the risk of diabetes.
- Heart disease and stroke. People who are obese are more likely to have high blood pressure, hardened arteries, high cholesterol, and other factors that can lead to heart disease and stroke.
- Sleep apnea. This sleep disorder is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. The disorder can cause daytime fatigue, high blood pressure and, rarely, sudden death. People with Prader-Willi syndrome may have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders even if they aren't obese, but obesity can worsen sleep problems.
Complications of hypogonadism
Other complications arise from hypogonadism, a condition in which your sex organs don't secrete sufficient amounts of the sex hormones testosterone (males) and estrogen and progesterone (females). These may include:
- Sterility. Although there have been a few reports of women with Prader-Willi syndrome becoming pregnant, most people with this disorder are unable to have children (sterile).
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones, which can break easily. People with Prader-Willi syndrome are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis because they have low levels of sex hormones, which help maintain strong bones.
Eating large amounts of food quickly, called binge eating, can cause your child's stomach to become abnormally distended (gastric dilatation). Binge eating can also cause choking and any of the other complications associated with obesity.
May. 01, 2013
- Cassidy SB, et al. Prader-Willi syndrome. European Journal of Human Genetics. 2009;17:3.
- Prader-Willi syndrome. Genetics Home Reference. National Library of Medicine. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/prader-willi-syndrome/show/print. Accessed Feb. 23, 2011.
- Scheimann AO. Clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment of Prader-Willi syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed Feb. 15, 2011.
- McCandless SE, et al. Health Supervision for Children With Prader-Willi Syndrome. Pediatrics. 2011;127:195.
- Cassidy SB, et al. Prader-Willi Syndrome. In: Pagon RA, et al., eds. GeneReviews. Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington; 1993. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1330/. Accessed Feb. 23, 2011.