Five children with features of Joubert's syndrome and Leber's amaurosis are described. The presenting symptoms were panting tachypnoea in the newborn, prolonged apnoeic attacks in the neonatal period (in both of identical twins), global developmental delay, and failure to develop vision. Three children had multiple hemifacial spasms, such as have been seen in Joubert's syndrome, and the same three had cystic dysplasia of the kidneys. Necropsy confirmed the retinal and renal pathology, together with agenesis of the vermis and brainstem dysgenesis in the identical twins. It is concluded that a gene for Leber's amaurosis may commonly manifest itself as the specific hind brain malformation underlying Joubert's syndrome. In infants with respiratory irregularities (especially rapid panting), hemifacial spasms, or developmental delay, absence of the cerebellar vermis should be specifically sought by ultrasound and computed tomography, and the electroretinogram measured, whether or not impaired vision is clinically evident.
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