This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system that affects breathing. It causes a person to hypoventilate (especially during sleep), resulting in a shortage of oxygen and a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood. It have two forms of presentation, a classic form that usually begin shortly after birth in newborns, and a milder later-onset presentaition in toddlers, children and adults. Affected infants hypoventilate upon falling asleep and exhibit a bluish appearance of the skin or lips (cyanosis). Other features may include difficulty regulating heart rate and blood pressure; decreased perception of pain; low body temperature; sporadic profuse sweating; Hirschsprung disease; constipation; learning difficulties; eye abnormalities; and a characteristic facial appearance (having a short, wide, somewhat flattened face). They can also have tumors of neural crest origin, such as neuroblastoma, ganglioneuroblastoma, and ganglioneuroma. The later-onset form is milder, and some cases may present as infants and children who die suddenly and unexpectedly (“SIDS” and “sudden unexplained death of childhood [SUDC]”).
CCHS is caused by a variation (mutation) in the PHOX2B gene and is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. However, over 90% of cases are due to a new mutation in the affected person and are not inherited from a parent. Diagnosis is made with the clinical symptoms and the genetic test showing the variation in the PHOX2B gene. Treatment typically includes mechanical ventilation or use of a diaphragm pacemaker. People who have been diagnosed as newborns and adequately ventilated throughout childhood may reach the age of 20 to 30 years, and can live independently. In the later-onset form, people who were diagnosed when they were 20 years or older have now reached the age of 30 to 55 years.
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