No change in the age of diagnosis for fragile x syndrome: findings from a national parent survey

Donald B Bailey, Melissa Raspa, Ellen Bishop, David Holiday
Pediatrics 2009, 124 (2): 527-33

OBJECTIVE: To determine recent trends in the diagnosis of children with fragile X syndrome (FXS) and identify factors associated with the timing of diagnosis.

METHODS: More than 1000 families of children with FXS participated in a national survey. Of these, 249 had their first child (213 boys, 36 girls) diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 and did not know about FXS in their family before diagnosis. These parents answered questions about the average age of first concerns, developmental delays, early intervention, and the FXS diagnosis. They also provided other information about their child and family, reported who made the diagnosis, and described ramifications for other children and extended family members.

RESULTS: The average age of FXS diagnosis of boys remained relatively stable across the 7-year period at approximately 35 to 37 months. The 36 girls with full mutation were given the diagnosis at an average age of 41.6 months. A trend was noted in earlier diagnosis of developmental delay for boys in more recent years. Approximately 25% of the families of male children had a second child with the full mutation before the diagnosis was given to the first child; 14 (39%) of the 36 families of female children had a second child with the full mutation before the diagnosis.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite patient advocacy, professional recommendations regarding prompt referral for genetic testing, and increased exposure to information about FXS in the pediatric literature, no changes were detected in the age of diagnosis of FXS during the time period studied. Earlier identification in the absence of systematic screening will likely continue to be a challenge.

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