Turner syndrome can affect the proper development of several body systems. A number of complications may occur, including:

  • Heart problems. Many girls and women with Turner syndrome were born with heart defects or even slight abnormalities in heart structure that increase their risk of serious complications. Defects in the main blood vessel leading out of the heart (aorta) increase the risk of a tear in the inner layer of the aorta (aortic dissection). A defect in the valve between the heart and the aorta may also increase the risk of a narrowing of the valve (aortic valve stenosis).
  • Risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Women with Turner syndrome have an increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure — conditions that increase the risk of developing diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
  • Hearing loss. Hearing loss is common among girls or women with Turner syndrome. In some cases, this is due to the gradual loss of nerve function. Also, slight abnormalities in the shape of the skull increase the risk of frequent middle ear infections and hearing loss related to these infections.
  • Kidney problems. About one-third of girls with Turner syndrome have some malformation of the kidneys. Although these abnormalities generally don't cause medical problems, they may increase the risk of high blood pressure and urinary tract infections.
  • Immune disorders. Girls and women with Turner syndrome have an increased risk of certain immune system disorders, including a condition that causes an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). This disorder results in the low production of hormones important for controlling heart rate, growth and metabolism. There's also an increased risk of diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and wheat intolerance (celiac disease), a condition that affects how your body processes carbohydrates in food.
  • Dental problems. Poor or abnormal tooth development may lead to a greater risk of tooth loss. The shape of the roof of the mouth and lower jaw often results in crowded teeth and a poorly aligned bite.
  • Vision problems. Girls with Turner syndrome have an increased risk of weak muscle control of eye movements (strabismus) and farsightedness (hyperopia).
  • Skeletal problems. Problems with the growth and development of bones increase the risk of abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis) and forward rounding of the upper back (kyphosis). Women with Turner syndrome are also at increased risk of developing weak, brittle bones (osteoporosis).
  • Pregnancy complications. Most women with Turner syndrome are infertile. However, a very small number of women may become pregnant spontaneously, and some can become pregnant with fertility treatment. Because women with Turner syndrome are at increased risk of aortic dissection during pregnancy, they should be evaluated by a cardiologist before pregnancy. They're also at risk of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Psychological issues. Girls and women with Turner syndrome may have learning disabilities, particularly math and spatial concepts, difficulties functioning well in social situations, and an increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Aug. 23, 2014