21 patients (10 male, 11 female) aged between 11 months and 29 years with Shwachman's syndrome are reviewed. All patients had exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Haematological features included neutropenia in 19 (95%), anaemia in 10 (50%), and thrombocytopenia in 14 (70%); one patient developed erythroleukaemia. Severe infections occurred in 17 (85%) from which 3 (15%) died. Only one child exceeded the 3rd centile for height, and growth retardation was particularly evident in the older patients. All had skeletal abnormalities or delayed skeletal maturation, or both. Metaphyseal dyschondroplasia affected 13 of the older patients and was associated with skeletal deformities. Eight of 9 children under 2 1/2 years had rib abnormalities. Respiratory function tests in children under 2 years demonstrated reduced thoracic gas volume and chest wall compliance. Older patients had reduced forced expiratory volume and forced vital capacity. Neurological assessment showed developmental retardation or reduced IQ assessments, or both, in 85% of patients studied. Other neurological abnormalities included hypotonia, deafness, and retinitis pigmentosa. Neonatal problems had been present in 16 (80%) of the patients and 5 were of low birthweights. Hepatomegaly with biochemical evidence of liver involvement occurred in the younger patients and resolved with age. Other associated features included dental abnormalities, renal dysfunction, an icthyotic maculopapular rash in 13 (65%), delayed puberty, diabetes mellitus, and various dysmorphic features. These findings stress the diverse manifestations of the syndrome and extend knowledge on a number of aspects. Sibship segregation ratios support an autosomal mode of inheritance and an hypothesis for the pathophysiological basis of this syndrome is advanced.
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