Predicting neurofibromatosis type 1 risk among children with isolated café-au-lait macules

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Although isolated cafe-au-lait macules (CALMs) are a common skin finding, they are an early feature of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1).


We sought to develop an algorithm determining the risk of children with CALMs to have constitutional NF1.


We conducted a retrospective study of patients with isolated CALMs. Diagnosis of NF1 was based on detecting NF1 mutation in blood or fulfilling clinical criteria.


In all, 170 of 419 (41%) and 21 of 86 (24%) children with isolated CALMs who underwent molecular testing and clinical follow-up, respectively, were given a diagnosis of NF1. Presence of fewer than 6 CALMs at presentation or atypical CALMs was associated with not having NF1 (P < .001). An algorithm based on age, CALMs number, and presence of atypical macules predicted NF1 in both cohorts. According to the algorithm, children older than 29 months with at least 1 atypical CALM or less than 6 CALMs have a 0.9% (95% confidence interval 0%-2.6%) risk for constitutional NF1 whereas children younger than 29 months with 6 or more CALMs have a high risk (80.4%, 95% confidence interval 74.6%-86.2%).


The study was designed to detect constitutional NF1 and not NF1 in mosaic form.


A simple algorithm enables categorization of children with isolated CALMs as being at low or high risk for having NF1.

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