Turner Syndrome Treatment

Turner syndrome is an irreversible condition that plagues affected girls from birth. There is no cure for this condition. Consequently, treatment for Turner syndrome revolves around managing the health problems that are symptoms of this disease. Common treatments for Turner syndrome revolve around any combination of physical and mental therapy, medication and hormone therapies.

Diagnosing Turner Syndrome

While doctors can identify Turner syndrome in fetuses by performing an ultrasound or an amniocentesis, diagnosing Turner syndrome in children calls for a karyotype, a blood test that examines chromosomal makeup to identify X chromosome abnormalities. Like many conditions, early diagnosis of Turner syndrome leads to early treatment and the best possible prognosis for this condition.

If a diagnosis is made early enough, human growth hormones may be administered from as early as six or seven years of age. Human growth hormones can help a little girl with Turner syndrome to grow slightly taller than the 4 feet 7 inches (140 cm), the average adult height of women with Turner syndrome.

Those with Turner syndrome should talk to their doctors about the exact length of treatment, as individuals with different needs will require different amounts of the human growth hormone. Because overdosing on this hormone have some nasty side effects, its important to get the dosage right.

Hormone (Estrogen) Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Estrogen replacement therapy becomes important as a girl approaches puberty during her teen years. This therapy allows girls with Turner syndrome to develop secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, and start menstruating like healthy girls their age.

If the patient has already had a few years of intervention with human growth hormones, HRT may start as early as age 12. Otherwise, the child’s development will be monitored without the administration of HRT. If, however, the girl hasnt hit puberty by age 15 or so, the doctor will likely prescribe estrogen replacement therapy.

Like human growth hormones, estrogen replacement therapy requires regular shots over long periods of time. However, doses have to be closely monitored to prevent overdosing.

Mental and Physical Therapy

Treatments, such as human growth hormones and estrogen replacement therapy, aren’t just physical interventions. Girls with Turner syndrome are acutely aware that they’re different from their classmates and friends. Along with being smaller, these girls are also severely underdeveloped sexually, often making them feel inferior. Physical therapy and counseling can help reduce these feelings and build confidence.

Nonverbal Learning Disability (NLD)

Although Turner syndrome is not considered to be a form of retardation, it can cause Nonverbal Learning Disability, or NLD. Nonverbal Learning Disability often manifests itself as problems with mathematics and understanding visual-spatial relationships.

Parents of children with Turner syndrome should talk to their childrens teachers about the condition and consider getting the child tutors who can help her combat the learning disabilities associated with Turner syndrome.

Day-to-Day Interventions

Each day, a Turner syndrome patient can do various things to help treat her get through life easier. Suggestions include:

  • Buy blocks for car pedals to make driving more comfortable.
  • Keep young girls active in sports and pastimes they enjoy. This promotes a healthy sense of self and helps build a strong base of friends.
  • Don’t shelter your child from her disease. It isn’t going away, so she has to come to terms with it and learn to live with it.
  • Join one of the on-line Turner syndrome societies. They’re full of information, tips from other parents and discussion groups where girls and women can connect with others who understand.
  • If you’re a parent, become an advocate for your child at school. If Nonverbal Learning Disability is a concern, be sure that the school understands what it means for your child and be sure that your school system addresses her learning needs.

Resources

Developmental Disabilities Resources for Healthcare Providers. (updated 2003) Turner syndrome.

Dr. Gerard Conway Adult Turner Clinic. (updated 2005). TS healthcare.

University of Maryland Medicine. (nd). Hormone replacement therapy: Risks