Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a rare genetic condition thatcauses a wide range of problems.

Thesemay include:

  • aconstant desire to eat food, which seems driven by a permanent feeling ofhunger and can easily lead to dangerous weight gain
  • Short stature , leading to shortstature
  • reduced muscle tone (hypotonia)
  • learning difficulties
  • lack of sexual development
  • behavioural problems, such as temper tantrums or stubbornness

The condition is rare, affecting no more than one in every 15,000 children born in England. Boys and girls of all ethnic backgrounds may be affected.

For parents, this includes dealing withtheir child'sexcessive eating and behavioural problems.

Trying to get your child to stick to a healthy, balanced diet and maintain a normal weight is one of the most important parts of caring for a child with Prader-Willi syndrome. It's also probably one of the most challenging and frustrating.

If children are allowed to eat as much as they want, they'll quickly become dangerously overweight. A child with the syndrome can eat three to six times more than other children of the same age and still feel hungry.

However restricting a child's diet is not easy. They can be highly obsessive when it comes to eating, and their hunger can cause them to hide or steal food.

If the  obesity isn't treated, a person with the syndrome will probablydie a lot younger than would normally be expected.

Compulsive eating can also cause health problems such as an abnormally expanded stomach and choking. Due to the potential risk of choking, all parents of a child withPrader-Willi syndromeare advised to learn the Heimlich manoeuvre.

However, because oftheir behavioural problems and learning difficulties, it's unlikely they'll be able to live fully independent lives.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016