Human genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, have a wide variety of clinical phenotypic presentations, and characterizing each nuanced phenotype and subtype can be difficult. In this study, we examined the electronic health records of 4095 individuals with Down syndrome at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to create a method to characterize the phenotypic spectrum digitally. We extracted Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) terms from quality-filtered patient notes using a natural language processing (NLP) approach MetaMap. We catalogued the most common HPO terms related to Down syndrome patients and compared the terms with those from a baseline population. We characterized the top 100 HPO terms by their frequencies at different ages of clinical visits and highlighted selected terms that have time-dependent distributions. We also discovered phenotypic terms that have not been significantly associated with Down syndrome, such as "Proptosis", "Downslanted palpebral fissures", and "Microtia". In summary, our study demonstrated that the clinical phenotypic spectrum of individual with Mendelian diseases can be characterized through NLP-based digital phenotyping on population-scale electronic health records (EHRs).
Keywords: Down syndrome; electronic health records; large-scale; longitudinal study; natural language processing; phenotype; phenotypic spectrum; text mining.