A clinical and genetic study of congenital myotonic dystrophy in Britain has been carried out in 70 patients from 54 sibships. The clinical aspects are analysed here, and the existence of a syndrome clinically distinct from myotonic dystrophy of later onset is confirmed. Characteristic features included neonatal hypotonia, motor and mental retardation, and facial diplegia. A high incidence of talipes occurs at birth together with hydramnios and reduced fetal movements during pregnancy, factors suggesting prenatal onset of the disorder in many cases. Prolonged survival is the rule after infancy, but the occurrence of numerous neonatal deaths in the sibships suggests the existence of unrecognized cases dying in the neonatal period.
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