Defining language disorders in children and adolescents with Noonan Syndrome


Lazzaro G, Caciolo C, Menghini D, Cumbo F, Digilio MC, Capolino R, Zampino G, Tartaglia M, Vicari S, Alfieri P.

Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2020 Apr;8(4):e1069. doi: 10.1002/mgg3.1069. Epub 2020 Feb 14.

PMID: 32059087 Free PMC Article

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Background: Noonan Syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized by a distinctive phenotype including facial dysmorphism, webbed neck, short stature, heart defects, and variable cognitive deficits as major features. Over the years, neuropsychological and behavioral studies explored alteration of cognitive functioning and related domains, such as learning, memory, and attention. To our knowledge, however, data concerning the language profile in this disorder is scarce. The aim of the present study was to detect specific language functioning combining nonverbal intelligence quotient and language abilities and to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in the language domains.

Methods: The language profile of 37 Italian participants with molecularly confirmed diagnosis of Noonan Syndrome was evaluated using specific tools to assess vocabulary and grammar comprehension and production, as well as phonological development.

Results: We observed that 78% of affected individuals exhibited language impairment. Within language domains, the strong area was lexical production and grammar production was the weak area. Almost half the participants manifested a similar trend of specific language impairment. Nonverbal intelligence quotient only correlated with grammar comprehension.

Conclusion: Our study expands present knowledge about the language profile in NS, and provides data that could enable more effective patient management and appropriate intervention.


Figure 1 Proportion of the scores obtained by each participant in different language domains


Figure 2 Percentage of different language profile in NS

Figure 3 Correlations between nonverbal IQ and different language domains