Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome

By Abby Ryon

What Is It and What are the Symptoms?

Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, more commonly known as WHS, is a mental and physical disability. The person has delayed growth and development. They are also slower intellectually, and they experience seizures which disappear with age. They also suffer from abnormalities of the eyes, heart, genitourinary track, and brain. People with WHS have specific face characteristics. This syndrome can be life threatening or fatal, and from when you are born you can have this disorder.

Facial Characteristics

People with WHS have what others call a "Greek warrior helmet" face. They have a broad, flat nasal bridge, a high forehead, and the eyes are widely spread and may look protruding. Other features are:

  • Shortened distance between nose and upper lip
  • down-turned mouth
  • small chin
  • poorly formed ears
  • small head


People do not usually inherit this syndrome. 85-90% is genetic mutation.

Other Information

  • 1 in 50,000 babies have a chance in having this syndrome happen.
  • Wolf and Hirschhorn "discovered" this syndrome in 1965
  • Another syndrome, Pitt-Rogers-Danks, has conditions that overlap with WHS. Researchers now know that these two syndromes are part of a singular syndrome that has different signs and symptoms.