Growth abnormalities such as macrocephaly and short stature have been described and are considered a consistent finding in neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), one of the most common autosomal dominant disorders in man. We present here a clinical study on the growth profile of a sample of NF1 patients collected through a population-based registry that covers three contiguous regions of North-East Italy (NEI-NF Registry). Auxometric traits of 528 NF1 patients have been measured with the aim of drawing growth charts for height, weight, and head circumference (OFC). Height velocity charts were based on a subset of 143 children who underwent multiple measurements. No differences in height were apparent between NF1 and normal subjects up to age 7 (girls) and 12 (boys) years; subsequently, the 50th centile of NF1 subjects tends to overlap with the 25th centile of normal subjects, and the 3rd centile is much lower in NF1 subjects than in normal subjects, mainly during adolescence. The negatively skewed distribution of height seems to indicate that height growth impairment affects only a proportion of NF1 subjects; height growth impairment does not seem related to disease severity. As for weight, our data suggest that slight overweight is a characteristic of adult NF1 subjects (mainly among males), independent of disease severity. Height growth velocity is normal during childhood for both sexes, whereas the pubertal spurt is slightly anticipated and reduced in NF1 boys but not in girls. Our data confirm previous observations that macrocrania affects most NF1 subjects; the shape of the head growth curve is similar in NF1 and normal girls, whereas NF1 boys present an OFC pubertal growth spurt much more pronounced and delayed than normal boys. The disproportion between OFC and height seems to be related to disease severity in boys but not in girls. Growth charts presented here can be useful in neurofibromatosis clinics for the identification of the effects of secondary growth disorders, for growth prognosis, and for the evaluation of the effects of a therapy such as GH therapy after radiotherapy for optic glioma.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.