Cri-du-chat Syndrome

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Cri-du-chat (cat's cry) syndrome, also known as 5p- syndrome, is a chromosomal condition that results when a piece of chromosome 5 is missing. Infants with this condition often have a high-pitched cry that sounds like that of a cat.


Other Names

  • Cat cry syndrome
  • Chromosome 5p- Syndrome
  • 5p Deletion Syndrome
  • monosomy 5p
  • 5p- Syndrome

Signs and Symptoms

The disorder is characterized by mental retardation and delayed development, distinctive facial features, small head size (microcephaly), low birth weight, and weak muscle tone (hypotonia) in infancy. Some children with cri-du-chat syndrome are also born with a heart defect.


Cri-du-chat syndrome is caused by a deletion of the end of the short (p) arm of chromosome 5. This chromosomal change is written as 5p-. The size of the deletion varies among affected individuals; studies suggest that larger deletions tend to result in more severe mental retardation and developmental delay than smaller deletions in people with cri-du-chat syndrome.

The signs and symptoms of cri-du-chat syndrome are probably related to the loss of multiple genes on the short arm of chromosome 5. Researchers believe that the loss of a specific gene, CTNND2, is associated with severe mental retardation in some people with this condition. They are working to identify additional genes in this region and determine how their loss contributes to the characteristic features of cri-du-chat syndrome.

Chances of Developing Cri-du-chat Syndrome

Cri-du-chat syndrome occurs in an estimated 1 in 20,000 to 50,000 newborns. This condition is found in people of all ethnic backgrounds and is slightly more common in females.


Cri-du-chat syndrome is related to chromosome 5.

The CTNND2 gene is associated with cri-du-chat syndrome.


Most cases of cri-du-chat syndrome are not inherited. They result from a chromosomal deletion that occurs as a random event during the formation of reproductive cells (eggs or sperm) or in early fetal development. Affected people typically have no history of the disorder in their family.

About 10 percent of people with cri-du-chat syndrome inherit the chromosome with a deleted segment from an unaffected parent. In these cases, the parent carries a chromosomal rearrangement called a balanced translocation, in which no genetic material is gained or lost. Balanced translocations usually do not cause any medical problems; however, they can become unbalanced as they are passed to the next generation. Children who inherit an unbalanced translocation can have a chromosomal rearrangement with extra or missing genetic material. Individuals with cri-du-chat syndrome who inherit an unbalanced translocation are missing genetic material from the short arm of chromosome 5, which results in birth defects and other health problems characteristic of this disorder.

Other Resources

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