The news story of a doctor being put into special intervention program on charges of beating her daughter suffering from the Prader-Willi Syndrome(PWS) has brought a much-needed focus on this eating disorder disability.
Prader Willis is a genetic disorder noticeable from early childhood, This disorder forces a person to eat extensively, the part of the brain which controls hunger and satisfaction does not work and forces one to eat excessively.
People suffering from this syndrome are obviously obese, suffer from poor muscle tone, slow growth, mental retardation, infertility, behavioral problems and depression.The symptoms get worse with age.
The doctor, Adina N. Alexescu, a 55-year-old internist practicing in Roselle Park was accepted into Morris County's Pre-Trial Intervention program. Her defense lawyer,Vincent Nuzzi has said that the doctor one day just reached the end of her tether and beat her 18 year old with a ruler.
The welts were noticed at her special school and the doctor was booked. People with Prader-Willi syndrome, also indulges in skin-mutilation or picking. Since then, the PWS suffering daughter of the doctor has been put in a special school which treats people with this disorder.
Anorexia and bulimia, both body image disorders leading to the other extreme of starvation have got enough focus with the fashion industry being taken to task for their focus on stick-thin models and promoting fashion styles which are potentially harmful.
The other end of the spectrum is seldom talked about or even known. The recent story about the doctor has generated a renewed and positive interest in the syndrome, which should get as much focus as other body image issues.
The incidence of PWS is between 1 in 25,000 and 1 in 10,000 live births. It is believed that 75 per cent of those with PWS are misdiagnosed due to unfamiliarity with the disaorder. Sometimes it is misdiagnosed as Down syndrome, simply because of the relative frequency of Down syndrome compared to PWS and people are more familiar with this disorder than PWS.
This syndrome is manageable and can be treated. It is better if the intervention/counseling starts early, as with age the disability progress.
The syndrome needs more media attention. A PWS sufferer has featured in CSI way back in 2005, recently Extreme Makeover ;Home edition aired an episode where a PWS person was featured.
Hopefully a news story tucked away in a small American town can bring about renewed efforts to bring the much –needed focus on this ignored syndrome.