Neurologic and developmental features of the Smith-Magenis syndrome (del 17p11.2)

Pediatr Neurol. 2006 May;34(5):337-50. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2005.08.018.


The Smith-Magenis syndrome is a rare, complex multisystemic disorder featuring, mental retardation and multiple congenital anomalies caused by a heterozygous interstitial deletion of chromosome 17p11.2. The phenotype of Smith-Magenis syndrome is characterized by a distinct pattern of features including infantile hypotonia, generalized complacency and lethargy in infancy, minor skeletal (brachycephaly, brachydactyly) and craniofacial features, ocular abnormalities, middle ear and laryngeal abnormalities including hoarse voice, as well as marked early expressive speech and language delays, psychomotor and growth retardation, and a 24-hour sleep disturbance. A striking neurobehavioral pattern of stereotypies, hyperactivity, polyembolokoilamania, onychotillomania, maladaptive and self-injurious and aggressive behavior is observed with increasing age. The diagnosis of Smith-Magenis syndrome is based upon the clinical recognition of a constellation of physical, developmental, and behavioral features in combination with a sleep disorder characterized by inverted circadian rhythm of melatonin secretion. Many of the features of Smith-Magenis syndrome are subtle in infancy and early childhood, and become more recognizable with advancing age. Infants are described as looking "cherubic" with a Down syndrome-like appearance, whereas with age the facial appearance is that of relative prognathism. Early diagnosis requires awareness of the often subtle clinical and neurobehavioral phenotype of the infant period. Speech delay with or without hearing loss is common. Most children are diagnosed in mid-childhood when the features of the disorder are most recognizable and striking. While improvements in cytogenetic analysis help to bring cases to clinical recognition at an earlier age, this review seeks to increase clinical awareness about Smith-Magenis syndrome by presenting the salient features observed at different ages including descriptions of the neurologic and behavioral features. Detailed review of the circadian rhythm disturbance unique to Smith-Magenis syndrome is presented. Suggestions for management of the behavioral and sleep difficulties are discussed in the context of the authors' personal experience in the setting of an ongoing Smith-Magenis syndrome natural history study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnosis*
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics*
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 17*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis*
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics*
  • Intellectual Disability / physiopathology
  • Syndrome