Psychiatric illness in a cohort of adults with Prader-Willi syndrome

Margje Sinnema*, Harm Boer, Philippe Collin, Marian A. Maaskant, Kees E. P. van Roozendaal, Constance T. R. M. Schrander-Stumpel, Leopold M. G. Curfs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previous studies have suggested an association between PWS and comorbid psychiatric illness. Data on prevalence rates of psychopathology is still scarce. This paper describes a large-scale, systematic study investigating the prevalence of psychiatric illness in a Dutch adult PWS cohort. One hundred and two individuals were screened for psychiatric illness. Case vignettes were written by the first author on 63 individuals with a positive screening on psychopathology according to the interviews, medical history, medication use and behavioural questionnaires. These case vignettes were rated by two psychiatrists specializing in intellectual disability (ID). Psychopathology was divided into four diagnostic categories: bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms, psychotic illness, depressive illness with psychotic symptoms and depressive illness without psychotic symptoms. Nine out of 53 persons (17%) with a 15q11-13 deletion and 28 out of 44 (64%) persons with maternal uniparental disomy (mUPD) were diagnosed with a current or previous psychiatric illness. Depressive illness with psychotic symptoms was the cause of psychiatric problems in the majority of persons with PWS due to deletion (56%). In the case of mUPD, almost all individuals with histories of psychopathology suffered from psychotic symptoms (85%) with or without affective component. Psychiatric examination should be part of general management of adults with PWS, especially when caused by mUPD. More attention should be paid to the presence of precursor symptoms, indicating a developing psychiatric episode. Longitudinal studies are needed to gain more insight into the natural history of psychiatric illness in adults with PWS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1729-1735
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Prader-Willi
  • Psychiatry
  • Ageing


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