What is Cri Du Chat Syndrome?

Cri-Du Chat, French for cry of the cat is a rare genetic disorder that occurs when there is a total or short deletion in the short arm of Chromosome 5. This portion of the chromosome is responsible for intellectual disability while the region of 5p15.3 is associated with speech delays and the high-pitched cat cry.  The high pitch cry is similar to the sound of a cat mewing which generally disappears after a few months or years in some cases. It is believed this is due to laryngeal alterations.

Although cri du chat is a rare syndrome, it is considered one of the most common syndromes in children and adults. There is an incidence of 1 in 50,000 live births and affects all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Signs and Symptoms

Physical signs and symptoms include:

  • microcephaly
  • large nasal bridge
  • down-turned corners of the month
  • low-set ears

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Hypertonia
  • Global and developmental delays
  • Speech and communication delays
  • Behavior challenges
  • Hypersensitivity.

Early Development

Studies show that in early development, during the first two years, children display issues with dysphasia, muscle hypotonia, and gastroesophageal and nasal reflux. Other early issues include recurrent respiratory infections and psychomotor issues.

Intellectual Disability

An intellectual disability is defined by the ICD-9 as a disorder with onset during the development period including both intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits. People with cri du chat typically fall under the moderate and severe range requiring personal care involving eating, dressing, and hygiene as well as self-care and monitored for self-injury.

Behavior Challenges

Behavior challenges among children and adults with cri du chat include aggressive and self-injurious behavior as well as hyperactivity. A study conducted by Cornish and Pigram (1996) found that there was one characteristics that occurred in more than 75% of the group and none characteristics that occurred in more than 50% of the group including hypersensitivity, to sensory stimuli, self0injurious behavior, repetitive movements, stubbornness and object attachment.

Health sites and  that provide information on Cri Du Chat including symptoms, diagnoses, definition and prevalence.

  1. National Institute of Health
  2. Wikipedia
  3. National Human Genome Research Institute
  4. Learn Genetics
  5. Medscape.com


  1. International Cri Du Chat
  2. Five P Minus Society

Updated 1/6/2021

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