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1.  Sirenomelia and severe caudal regression syndrome 
Saudi Medical Journal  2014;35(Suppl 1):S36-S43.
To describe cases of sirenomelia and severe caudal regression syndrome (CRS), to report the prevalence of sirenomelia, and compare our findings with the literature.
Retrospective data was retrieved from the medical records of infants with the diagnosis of sirenomelia and CRS and their mothers from 1989 to 2010 (22 years) at the Security Forces Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A perinatologist, neonatologist, pediatric neurologist, and radiologist ascertained the diagnoses. The cases were identified as part of a study of neural tube defects during that period. A literature search was conducted using MEDLINE.
During the 22-year study period, the total number of deliveries was 124,933 out of whom, 4 patients with sirenomelia, and 2 patients with severe forms of CRS were identified. All the patients with sirenomelia had single umbilical artery, and none were the infant of a diabetic mother. One patient was a twin, and another was one of triplets. The 2 patients with CRS were sisters, their mother suffered from type II diabetes mellitus and morbid obesity on insulin, and neither of them had a single umbilical artery. Other associated anomalies with sirenomelia included an absent radius, thumb, and index finger in one patient, Potter’s syndrome, abnormal ribs, microphthalmia, congenital heart disease, hypoplastic lungs, and diaphragmatic hernia.
The prevalence of sirenomelia (3.2 per 100,000) is high compared with the international prevalence of one per 100,000. Both cases of CRS were infants of type II diabetic mother with poor control, supporting the strong correlation of CRS and maternal diabetes.
PMCID: PMC4362094  PMID: 25551110
2.  Genetic, chromosomal, and syndromic causes of neural tube defects 
Saudi Medical Journal  2014;35(Suppl 1):S49-S56.
To ascertain the incidence, and describe the various forms of neural tube defects (NTDs) due to genetic, chromosomal, and syndromic causes.
We carried out a retrospective analysis of data retrieved from the medical records of newborn infants admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with NTDs and their mothers spanning 14 years (1996-2009) at the Security Forces Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The cases were ascertained by a perinatologist, neonatologist, geneticist, radiologist, and neurologist. The literature was reviewed via a MEDLINE search. Only liveborn babies were included. Permission from the Educational Committee at the Security Forces Hospital was obtained prior to the collection of data.
Out of 103 infants with NTDs admitted during this period, 20 (19.4%) were found to have an underlying genetic syndromic, chromosomal and/or other anomalies. There were 5 cases of Meckel-Gruber syndrome, 2 Joubert syndrome, one Waardenburg syndrome, one Walker-Warburg syndrome, 2 chromosomal disorders, 2 caudal regression, one amniotic band disruption sequence, one associated with omphalocele, one with diaphragmatic hernia, and 4 with multiple congenital anomalies.
There is a high rate of underlying genetic syndromic and/or chromosomal causes of NTDs in the Saudi Arabian population due to the high consanguinity rate. Identification of such association can lead to more accurate provisions of genetic counseling to the family including preimplantation genetic diagnosis or early termination of pregnancies associated with lethal conditions.
PMCID: PMC4362101  PMID: 25551112
3.  Epidemiology of neural tube defects 
Saudi Medical Journal  2014;35(Suppl 1):S29-S35.
To find the prevalence of neural tube defects (NTDs), and compare the findings with local and international data, and highlight the important role of folic acid supplementation and flour fortification with folic acid in preventing NTDs.
This is a retrospective study of data retrieved from the medical records of live newborn infants admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Security Forces Hospital (SFH), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with NTDs spanning 14 years (1996-2009). All pregnant women on their first antenatal visit to the primary care clinic were prescribed folic acid 0.5 mg daily, or 5 mg if there is a family history of NTD. The pre-fortification prevalence is compared to post-fortification, before and after excluding syndromic, genetic, and chromosomal causes. The results were compared with reports from other parts of Saudi Arabia and internationally, through a literature search using MEDLINE.
The prevalence of NTDs during the period was 1.2 per 1000 live births. The pre-fortification of flour with folic acid prevalence was 1.46 per 1000 live births. The post-fortification prevalence was 1.05 (p=0.103). After excluding syndromic, genetic, and chromosomal causes from calculation of the prevalence, there was a significant reduction in the prevalence, from 1.46 to 0.81 per 1000 live births (p=0.0088). Syndromic, genetic, and chromosomal causes were identified in 20 cases (19.4%). Only 2% of mothers received preconception folic acid, and only 10% of them received it during the first 4 weeks of gestation.
Despite the implementation of fortification of flour with folic acid since 2001, the prevalence of NTDs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is still high. This is due to the impact of genetic, syndromic, and chromosomal causes of NTD not preventable by folic acid. Other factors like unplanned pregnancy and lack of awareness of the role of folic acid in preventing nonsyndromic causes, play a significant role.
PMCID: PMC4362102  PMID: 25551108
4.  A novel syndrome of lethal familial hyperekplexia associated with brain malformation 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:125.
Hyperekplexia (HPX) is a rare non-epileptic disorder manifesting immediately after birth with exaggerated persistent startle reaction to unexpected auditory, somatosensory and visual stimuli, and non-habituating generalized flexor spasm in response to tapping of the nasal bridge (glabellar tap) which forms its clinical hallmark. The course of the disease is usually benign with spontaneous amelioration with age. The disorder results from aberrant glycinergic neurotransmission, and several mutations were reported in the genes encoding glycine receptor (GlyR) α1 and β subunits, glycine transporter GlyT2 as well as two other proteins involved in glycinergic neurotransmission gephyrin and collybistin.
The phenotype of six newborns, belonging to Saudi Arabian kindred with close consanguineous marriages, who presented with hyperekplexia associated with severe brain malformation, is described. DNA samples were available from two patients, and homozygosity scan to determine overlap with known hyperkplexia genes was performed.
The kindred consisted of two brothers married to their cousin sisters, each with three affected children who presented antenatally with excessive fetal movements. Postnatally, they were found to have microcephaly, severe hyperekplexia and gross brain malformation characterized by severe simplified gyral pattern and cerebellar underdevelopment. The EEG was normal and they responded to clonazepam. All of the six patients died within six weeks. Laboratory investigations, including metabolic screen, were unremarkable. None of the known hyperkplexia genes were present within the overlapping regions of homozygosity between the two patients for whom DNA samples were available.
We present these cases as a novel syndrome of lethal familial autosomal recessive hyperekplexia associated with microcephaly and severe brain malformation.
PMCID: PMC3488335  PMID: 23101555
Hyperekplexia; Microcephaly; Simplified gyral pattern; Cerebellar underdevelopment; Autosomal recessive

Results 1-4 (4)