PRADER-WILLI syndrome is a rare genetic condition affecting one in 15,000 children in England.
Although the syndrome itself isn't life-threatening, its symptoms can cause complications such as compulsive eating and weight gain. Katie Price's son, Harvey, was born with PWS and the reality star has spoken out about her son's symptoms.
What is Prader-Willi syndrome?
PWS is a genetic condition that can impact muscle tone, sexual development and the function of the nervous system.
As well as this, those with Prader-Willi syndrome are more likely to have learning difficulties.
Often, it also sparks a constant desire to eat food and a permanent feeling of hunger which leads to child obesity.
However, the syndrome is very rare, with the NHS estimating that it affects "no more than one in every 15,000 children born in England".
What causes Prader-Willi syndrome?
Those with PWS have a genetic defect on chromosome number 15.
In around 70 per cent of cases, some of the DNA information that's inherited from the father is missing, which is referred to as "paternal deletion".
Other cases occur when a child has two copies from their mother and none from their father.
The condition is obtained purely by chance, but those who have one child with PWS have a less than 1% chance of the next one being affected.
How is Prader-Willi syndrome diagnosed?
Genetic tests are used to diagnose PWS.
Medical professionals will often carry out this check if they identify someone who is displaying the symptoms of Prader-Willi syndrome.
The NHS offers more detailed criteria for diagnosis on their website.
What are the symptoms of Prader-Willi syndrome?
The Prader-Will Syndrome Association UK describes the medical characteristics of the condition as:
• Hypotonia: weak muscle tone, and floppiness at birth.
• Hypogonadism: immature development of sexual organs and other sexual characteristics.
• Obesity: caused by excessive appetite and overeating (hyperphagia), and a decreased calorific requirement owing to low energy expenditure levels, although obesity is not normally a feature of those whose food intake is strictly controlled.
• Central nervous system and endocrine gland dysfunction: causing varying degrees of learning disability, short stature, hyperphagia, somnolence (excessive sleepiness), and poor emotional and social development.
What are the risk factors of Prader-Willi syndrome?
As children with PWS can consume three to six times more food than other kids of the same age, there is a huge risk of obesity.
Consuming food compulsively can also lead to your stomach becoming abnormally expanded.
Young adults who have been diagnosed also run the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart failure if they don't control their eating.
Can Prader-Willi syndrome be cured?
As it currently stands, there is no cure for PWS.
Those who have been diagnosed with the condition are encouraged to take measures to lessen the severity of symptoms and associated problems.
Parents of child sufferers are asked to monitor any excessive eating and try to keep balanced and healthy meals on the menu.
How has Katie Price raised awareness for her son Harvey's condition?
Harvey Price is partially blind, autistic and has Prader-Willi syndrome.
Mum Katie has said she fears 18-year-old Harvey could die from diabetes after he tipped the scales at 29 stone.
Harvey's condition has led to major health concerns, as his condition makes him constantly feel hungry.
Katie has revealed doctors have warned that the battle to keep Harvey alive is “critical” — as he could drop dead from a heart attack if he doesn’t lose weight urgently.
She said:“It’s a cruel illness. He feels hungry all the time. Every time I feed him, it’s killing him.
“Even though it makes him happy, it’s cruel of me to do it.
“He needs to lose weight or he’ll end up dead. He doesn’t deserve that. I don’t want to lose him."
In 2019, Katie made the decision to put her son into a part-time residential care home because he was like a “24 stone nightmare newborn”.
The former glamour model spoke about Harvey's condition while filming her reality series My Crazy Life.
She said: "If he doesn't sort it out he will die, we've been told, because of his heart."
In a 2017 interview on Loose Women, Katie said: "He never knows when he's full up, he'll do anything he can to feed himself."
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