The Waardenburg syndrome (WS) consists of at least two distinct autosomal dominant hereditary disorders. WS Type I has been mapped to the distal part of chromosome 2q and the gene identified as PAX3. Other gene(s) are responsible for WS Type II. Mapping WS Type II requires accurate diagnosis within affected families. To establish diagnostic criteria for WS Type II, 81 individuals from 21 families with Type II WS were personally studied, and compared with 60 personally studied patients from 8 families with Type I and 253 cases of WS (Type I or II) from the literature. Sensorineural hearing loss (77%) and heterochromia iridum (47%) were the two most important diagnostic indicators for WS Type II. Both were more common in Type II than in Type I. Other clinical manifestations, such as white forelock and skin patches, were more frequent in Type I. We estimate the frequency of phenotypic traits and propose diagnostic criteria for WS Type II. In practice, a diagnosis of WS Type II can be made with confidence given a family history of congenital hearing loss and pigmentary disorders, where individuals have been accurately measured for ocular distances to exclude dystopia canthorum.
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