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Silver-Russell Syndrome

  • Author: Sunil Sinha, MD; Chief Editor: Luis O Rohena, MD  more...
Updated: Apr 06, 2015


Silver-Russell syndrome (SRS) originally was described by Silver and colleagues in 1953 and, soon afterwards, by Russell in 1954. The first reports were in children with characteristic facies, low birthweight, asymmetry, and growth retardation.

Over the past several years, more than 400 patients have been described, with phenotypes ranging from mild to classic. Most patients are found to have hypomethylation in the chromosome 11p15 imprinting center 1 (IC1); some patients have maternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 7, with the possibility of imprinting (eg, inheriting 2 copies of maternal chromosome 7, with no paternal contribution).[1, 2, 3]



Growth failure is the primary abnormality. The American College of Radiology have established guidelines regarding growth disturbances.[4]

Patients typically present with intrauterine growth retardation, difficulty feeding, failure to thrive, or postnatal growth retardation. Adequate catch-up growth often does not occur, and final adult height still is less than normal (≤ -3.6 standard deviations [SD]). See the image below.

Failure of growth in weight, length, and head circ Failure of growth in weight, length, and head circumference starting at birth, suggesting an organic etiology that occurred in utero.

Older children and adults do not manifest clinical features as clearly as infants or young children. Growth hormone insufficiency may be present. Abnormalities of spontaneous growth hormone (GH) secretion and subnormal responses to provocative growth hormone stimulation testing have been reported in a significant number of children with Silver-Russell syndrome. Facial dysmorphism is observed, with small triangular facies and normal head circumference. Because length usually is less than normal, the head appears disproportionately large. Intelligence may be normal, or the patient may have a learning disability. The limbs may be asymmetric, and camptodactyly (ie, fixed flexion of digits) or clinodactyly (ie, incurving) of one or more fingers may be present.





More than 400 cases have been reported. Estimates of incidence range from as high as 1 case in 3,000 population to as low as 1 case in 100,000 population.


Infants have failure to thrive, feeding difficulties, and fasting hypoglycemia. A retrospective study by Marsaud et al found digestive problems and malnutrition to be common in children with Silver-Russell syndrome. The study, in which 75 patients (median age 24.3 mo) were assessed, found malnutrition in 70% of them and gastrointestinal signs in 77% of them. The latter included feeding difficulties (65%), severe gastroesophageal reflux (55%), severe vomiting before age 1 year (50%), persistent vomiting from age 1 year (29%), and constipation (20%).[5]


The male-to-female ratio is equal.


Clinical features are easier to identify in infants and younger children, particularly the small triangular facies. These findings are more difficult to recognize in adults.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Sunil Sinha, MD Assistant Professor, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Sunil Sinha, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, Endocrine Society, Pediatric Endocrine Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Luis O Rohena, MD Chief, Medical Genetics, San Antonio Military Medical Center; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F Edward Hebert School of Medicine; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Luis O Rohena, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Chemical Society, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Elaine H Zackai, MD Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Professor of Pediatrics in Human Genetics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Director, Clinical Genetics Center, University of Pennsylvania; Senior Physician and Director of Clinical Genetics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Elaine H Zackai, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Robert J Ferry Jr, MD Le Bonheur Chair of Excellence in Endocrinology, Professor and Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Robert J Ferry Jr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, Endocrine Society, Pediatric Endocrine Society, Society for Pediatric Research, and Texas Pediatric Society

Disclosure: Eli Lilly & Co Grant/research funds Investigator; MacroGenics, Inc Grant/research funds Investigator; Ipsen, SA (formerly Tercica, Inc) Grant/research funds Investigator; NovoNordisk SA Grant/research funds Investigator; Diamyd Grant/research funds Investigator; Bristol-Myers-Squibb Grant/research funds Other; Amylin Other; Pfizer Grant/research funds Other; Takeda Grant/research funds Other

Margaret M McGovern, MD, PhD Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, Stony Brook University, New York

Margaret M McGovern, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics and American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Genzyme Grant/research funds PI

Ainu Prakash-Cheng, MD, PhD† Former Co-Director, Comprehensive Gaucher Disease Treatment Center, Department of Human Genetics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Lawrence A Wetterau, MD Assistant Professor, Section of Endocrinology, Children's Hospital Central California.

Lawrence A Wetterau is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, Endocrine Society, and Lawson-Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Failure of growth in weight, length, and head circumference starting at birth, suggesting an organic etiology that occurred in utero.
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