Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) is a heterogeneous group of disorders in which prolonged decrease or absence of fetal movements results in a series of deformational anomalies. The rate of recurrence ranges from 25% in some recessive forms of myogenic arthrogryposis or of primary anterior horn cell loss, to less than 1% in anoxic-ischaemic damage. Cerebral clastic processes are considered as sporadic. We report on a non-consanguineous family in which the first child was affected by AMC and the following pregnancy was terminated because cerebellum hypoplasia was suspected at ultrasound and confirmed by fetal magnetic resonance imaging. Post-mortem findings demonstrated pontocerebellar ischaemic-haemorrhagic injuries. The occurrence of these neurologic abnormalities in the same family suggests a common mechanism, which might correspond to a same genetic defect with different patterns of expression. This is the first prenatal report suggesting that an 'ischaemic' process, usually recognised as sporadic could in fact be due to an inherited abnormality. Careful prenatal follow-up of third-trimester fetal brain development may be required in pregnant women with a family history of AMC.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel