What are the Different Methods of Fragile X Syndrome Prevention?

Erin J. Hill

There is no particular means of fragile X syndrome prevention. It is a genetic disorder, and whether or not a child is born with it will depend on a parent’s genetic disposition and pure luck. Parents can go to genetic counseling for testing to determine whether or not they are at risk of having a child with fragile X, but there is no way to prevent it from occurring in an existing pregnancy.

Fragile X syndrome can cause slow growth, mental retardation and other developmental delays.
Fragile X syndrome can cause slow growth, mental retardation and other developmental delays.

Fragile X syndrome, sometimes simply called fragile X, is a condition which causes severe mental retardation. It is caused by a defect in the X chromosome and generally affects males more severely than females. Those who are born with it often have long faces with big foreheads and chins combined with abnormally large ears. They also tend to have a lack of muscle tone.

Since there is no known method of fragile X syndrome prevention other than an at-risk couple avoiding children altogether, it is really a luck of the draw in terms of which children will have it and which will not. Since it is genetic, fragile X is passed down from the parents to the child at birth. It is not contagious and cannot be passed through physical contact.

Genetic counseling is useful for those who are concerned with fragile X prevention. This involves the testing of genes in partners who want to have children together to determine if they are at risk of genetic defects. Those who are found to be at more of a risk for fragile X are more likely to have a child with the condition than others, although there is no 100% guarantee that a particular couple will or will not have a child with birth defects. Even those with specific genetic problems still have a good chance of bearing healthy children.

There is emerging research which may eventually allow fragile X prevention or treatment through medication. Drugs have been developed, but they have not been successful in treating this disorder. More research is needed to develop more effective treatments. Patients who are born with fragile X syndrome are usually given behavioral therapies, special education, and sometimes medical treatment or physical therapy to treat any physical birth defects which may be present.

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