Tom and I were married in 1995 and had our first son Michael in 1998. Our second son Brady was born in 2005. Within the first month, he was suspected to have William's Syndrome, a genetic condition. Official diagnosis came three months later.
Williams syndrome is a rare genetic condition (estimated to occur in 1/7,500 births) which causes medical and developmental problems.
Williams syndrome is caused by a spontaneously occurring deletion of 20 genes on chromosome #7, including the gene that makes the protein elastin, which provides strength and elasticity to vessel walls. The heart and blood vessel abnormalities are caused by this lack of elastin. Most young children with Williams syndrome are described as having similar facial features. These features include a small upturned nose, wide mouth, full lips, small chin, and puffiness around the eyes. Blue and green-eyed children with Williams syndrome can have a prominent "starburst" or white lacy pattern on their iris.
The majority of individuals with Williams syndrome have some type of heart or blood vessel problem. Typically, there is narrowing in the aorta (producing supravalvular aortic stenosis SVAS), or narrowing in the pulmonary arteries. There is a broad range in the degree of narrowing, ranging from trivial to severe (requiring surgical correction of the defect).
Individuals with Williams syndrome have a very endearing personality. They have a unique strength in their expressive language skills, and are extremely polite. They are typically unafraid of strangers and show a greater interest in contact with adults than with their peers.
(adapted from the Williams Syndrome Association website)