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Trisomy 18


Trisomy 18 is a genetic disorder in which a person has a third copy of material from chromosome 18, instead of the usual two copies.

Alternative Names

Edwards syndrome


Trisomy 18 occurs in 1 in 6,000 live births. It is three times more common in girls than boys.

The syndrome occurs when there is extra material from chromosome 18. The extra material affects normal development.


Exams and Tests

An exam during pregnancy may show an unusually large uterus and extra amniotic fluid. There may be an unusually small placenta when the baby is born.

A physical exam of the infant may show unusual fingerprint patterns. X-rays may show a short breast bone. Chromosome studies will show trisomy 18, partial trisomy, or translocation.

Other signs include:

There are often signs of congenital heart disease, such as:

Tests may also show kidney problems, including:

  • Horseshoe kidney
  • Hydronephrosis
  • Polycystic kidney


There are no specific treatments for trisomy 18. Which treatments are used depend on the patient's individual condition.

Support Groups

  • Support Organization for Trisomy 18, 13 and Related Disorders (SOFT) -- www.trisomy.org
  • Trisomy 18 Foundation -- www.trisomy18.org
  • Hope For Trisomy 13 and 18 -- www.hopefortrisomy13and18.org

Outlook (Prognosis)

Half of infants with this condition do not survive beyond the first week of life, and 90% of the children will die by one year of age. Some children have survived to the teenage years, but with serious medical and developmental problems.

Possible Complications

Complications depend on the specific defects and symptoms.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Genetic counseling can help families understand the condition, the risks of inheriting it, and how to care for the patient.


Tests can be done during pregnancy to find out if the child has this syndrome.

Genetic testing is recommended for parents who have a child with this syndrome and who want to have more children.



Summar K, Lee B. Cytogenetics. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, Shor NF, Behrman RE, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 76.

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