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source: Special Child.com
Features and Characteristics
The term CHARGE comes from the first letter of some of the most common features seen in children with CHARGE: C = coloboma, H = heart defects, A = atresia of the choanae, R = retardation of growth and development, G = genital and urinary abnormalities, E = ear abnormalities and/or hearing loss. There are several other features associated with the syndrome as well, such as cleft lip and palate, tracheo-esophageal fistula or atresia, facial palsy, swallowing problems, weak upper body strength, seizures, microcephaly, abnormalities of the pituitary gland, and poor immune system. The physical findings and symptoms of individuals with CHARGE syndrome may vary greatly.
Coloboma - This is a cleft or failure to close of the eyeball, which can result in abnormalities in the retina or optic nerve. Colobomas can result in significant vision loss, especially in the upper half of the vision field. Surgery cannot correct a coloboma, however, glasses may improve visual acuity. Children with CHARGE are often sensitive to light and may need sunglasses outdoors as well as indoors.
Heart defects - Approximately 80% of children with CHARGE are born with a heart defect, many of which are minor. However, some of the heart defects associated with CHARGE may be life-threatening. Tetralogy of Fallot is the most frequent type of heart defect.
Atresia of the choanae - Children with CHARGE may have blocked or narrowed passages from the back of the nose to the throat. Surgery can correct this feature, however, many surgeries may be required.
Retardation of growth and development - Most children with CHARGE are born average size, however, due to the heart and nutrition problems or growth hormone deficiency, children often become smaller than average. Most children with CHARGE are developmentally delayed, which is often the result of vision and/or hearing loss. Some children with CHARGE may have mental retardation, with or without brain abnormalities.
Genital and urinary abnormalities - Many boys have undescended testes and a small penis and girls may have small labia. Both may require hormone therapy to achieve puberty. They may also have kidney or urinary tract abnormalities.
Ear abnormalities - Children with CHARGE may have short, wide ears with little or no earlobe and they may be soft due to floppy cartilage. The outer portion of the ear may appear as though it has been snipped-off. Hearing loss is found in approximately 80-85% of children with CHARGE ranging from mild to profound.