Primary care of a child with Rett syndrome

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Purpose:To discuss the history, incidence, pathophysiology, diagnostic criteria, disease staging, clinical presentation and physical exam findings, and role of the primary care provider (PCP) as they pertain to care for a child with Rett syndrome (RS).Data sources:Review of published literature on and diagnostic criteria of RS.Conclusions:RS is a devastating X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder that affects females and a small percentage of males. RS is characterized by stereotypic wringing hand movements, social withdrawal, communication dysfunction, cognitive impairment, respiratory dysfunction, and failing locomotion. Diagnosis is generally made clinically despite available genetic testing. Advances in research have been beneficial; however, the pathophysiology of RS has proven to be elusive. RS is a complex disease that involves multiple organ systems.Implications for practice:PCPs need to be aware of how to manage RS patients if they present to the primary care office, and need to be prepared to diagnose RS early, provide appropriate interventions and referrals, understand the challenges, and understand the goal of treatment. They also should be able to provide continuity of care, provide anticipatory guidance, and engage in shared decision with families and patients.

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