Fragile X syndrome (FXS), also known as Martin-Bell syndrome, or Escalante’s syndrome (more commonly used in South American countries), is a genetic syndrome. Nearly half of all children with fragile X syndrome meet the criteria for a diagnosis ofautism. It is an inherited cause of intellectual disability especially among boys. It results in a spectrum of intellectual disabilities ranging from mild to severe as well as physical characteristics such as an elongated face, large or protruding ears, and large testes (macroorchidism), and behavioral characteristics such as stereotypic movements (e.g. hand-flapping), and social anxiety.
Fragile X syndrome is associated with the expansion of the CGG trinucleotide repeat affecting the Fragile X mental retardation 1(FMR1) gene on the X chromosome, resulting in a failure to express the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), which is required for normal neural development. Depending on the length of the CGG repeat, an allele may be classified as normal (unaffected by the syndrome), a premutation (at risk of fragile X associated disorders), or full mutation (usually affected by the syndrome). A definitive diagnosis of fragile X syndrome is made through genetic testing to determine the number of CGG repeats. Testing for premutation carriers can also be carried out to allow for genetic counseling. The first complete DNA sequence of the repeat expansion in someone with the full mutation was generated by scientists in 2012 using SMRT sequencing.
There is currently no drug treatment that has shown benefit specifically for fragile X syndrome. However, medications are commonly used to treat symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity, anxiety, and aggression. Supportive management is important in optimizing functioning in individuals with fragile X syndrome, and may involve speech therapy, occupational therapy, and individualized educational and behavioral programs.