Patients with CHARGE syndrome are usually identified in infancy or early childhood when multiple congenital anomalies are found. Many of these defects are diagnosed in the neo-natal period and require immediate surgical intervention because they are life-threatening. Congenital heart defects occur in 75 to 80% of patients .
Most individuals with CHARGE syndrome have distinctive facial features. These may include  :
The occurrence of one or more of the major features increases the suspicion of CHARGE syndrome. Patients with one of the major abnormalities should be evaluated for all the other major and minor anomalies  .
Major Criteria (Frequency (%))
Minor Criteria (Frequency (%))
Children with CHARGE may develop behavioral difficulties. These have been described as autistic-like and obsessive-compulsive. Attention deficit disorders and tic disorders may also be present . Multi-sensory impairments, communication frustrations, and physical pain all have been blamed in the behavior disorders.
In 2004, the CHD7 gene mutation on Chromosome 8 was found to be responsible for CHARGE syndrome in 60-67% of cases  . Though genetic testing is helpful in identifying individuals with the disorder, it is not conclusive. The cost of the test may be prohibitive. Therefore, the diagnosis of the disorder is usually made by the clinical finding of the major and minor features of the disorder.
Further workup depends on the presenting anomalies. All patients suspected of having CHARGE syndrome should be evaluated for all the major and minor features of the disorder. Referral should be made to appropriate specialists, when abnormalities are found. Further workup will follow as needed.
Early identification of abnormalities and intervention is imparative to the management , treatment, and prevention of morbidity and mortality in individuals with CHARGE syndrome.
Children with CHARGE syndrome require intensive medical management as well as numerous surgical interventions. They also need multidisciplinary follow up. Specific treatment depends on the associated anomalies. Early identification of oral, nasal, ophthalmic, and cardiac abnormalities and immediate intervention are essential for the best prognosis and physical and developmental outcomes.
One significant issue in all patients with CHARGE is the feeding adaptations needed by these children. This issue requires early aggressive intervention to prevent growth retardation and respiratory complications .
Behavior problems have become more common in individuals with CHAGE and require special educational and physical/developmental therapeutic services  .
Early interventions, such as occupational and physical therapy, are very important to decrease the possibility of developmental delay. Management should be by a multidisciplinary team,  as these children can thrive with the support of a team of medical professionals.
Prognosis for individuals with CHARGE syndrome is dependent on the type and severity of the anomalies involved. Early infancy mortality rates are 10% to 20%.
Survival rates have improved with new cardiac treatments . For those who survive through early childhood, life expectancy is usually normal . Infants with bilateral choanal atresia, cardiac defects and renal malformations have a high mortality rate .
Feeding difficulties are a major cause of morbidity for individuals of all ages. Among individuals who die in later childhood and adulthood, gastro-esophageal reflux was present in 100% of the cases and pneumonia the most common cause of death .
CHARGE syndrome is identified solely on the presence of the major anomalies occurring together. Recently mutations in the CHD7 gene have been identified in individuals with CHARGE syndrome  . However, the gene is found in only 60% of patients with the disorder.
CHARGE syndrome results from a mutation or deletion of the CHD7 gene on Chromosome 8  . CHARGE syndrome is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene from one parent is sufficient to cause the disorder. However most cases seem to result from new mutations in the CHD7 gene, where neither parent has the abnormal gene. The disorder, therefore, occurs in families with no history of the disorder .
Since, one-third of individuals with CHARGE syndrome do not have an identified mutation in the CHD7 gene, researchers suspect there are other genetic and environmental factors that may be involved in these individuals .
The reported incidence of CHARGE syndrome is approximately 0.1 per 10,000 live births  . Incidence does not appear to be influenced by race, gender, or ethnicity.
There is a very small increased incidence in families with disease and in monozygotic twins. This supports a genetic origin .
There is a slightly higher mean paternal age at conception for infants born with the disorder. No other environmental or social factors have been found.
All the abnormalities associated with CHARGE syndrome are due to embryotic defects in craniofacial structures. The structures involved all are formed in the second month of gestation. This is a formative stage in the development of these organs .
Mutations in the CHD7 gene produce an abnormally short, nonfunctional CHD7 protein. This abnormal protein results in the physical anomalies of CHARGE syndrome  as it causes generalized disruption of the interaction of mesenchymal–epithelium (mesenchyme, mesoderm, and ectoderm and endoderm) .
The major anomalies related to CHARGE syndrome are:
Coloboma refers to a key-hole shaped defect in one of the structures of the eye: iris, retina, choroid, or optic disc. People with coloboma may have no vision problems or may be blind, depending on the affected structures and severity    .
Heart defects, most commonly Tetrology of Fallot, Patent Ductus Arteriosus, and Ventral Septal Defects, all of which involve the cardiac endothelium .
Retardation of development is primarily due to sensorimotor distruptions related to abnormalities of the eyes, ears, and cranial nerves  .
Ear anomalies occur in the external, middle, and inner ear. The most common ear anomaly is the abnormal appearance of bowl-shaped and concave ears, known as "lop ears"  . Abnormalities of the middle and inner ear commonly cause deafness. Inner ear abnormalities may cause defects in balance and motor skills.
There are no guidelines for prevention of CHARGE syndrome.
Various combinations of the anomalies may be present and may occur to varying degrees. No single feature is always present. Clinical diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome requires the presence of four of the major defect, or three major features and one minor characteristic .
What is CHARGE syndrome?
CHARGE syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that causes one or more birth defects. A birth defect is a health condition that is present at birth and may change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body.
The defects in CHARGE syndrome develop during early fetal development and affect multiple body systems. They can cause significant health problems, body development, or in how the body works.
The term CHARGE comes from the first letter of some of the more common defects seen in these children:
(C) = coloboma (a hole in a part of the eye) and/or cranial nerve defects, (80%)
(H) = heart defects, (75-85%)
(A) = atresia of the choanae, blocked nasal/breathing passages (50-60%)
(R) = retardation of growth and development (70-80%)
(G) = genital underdevelopment, delayed sexual development (38%)
(E) = ear abnormalities and hearing loss (62-90%)
What causes CHARGE syndrome?
The cause of CHARGE is usually a mutation (change) in the CHD7gene on Chromosome 8. Most cases result from a new mutation occurring in people with no history of the disorder in their family. This disorder does not appear to be passed down from parent to child.
How is Charge syndrome diagnosed?
Diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome is based on the presence of three or more of the major abnormalities identified by its name. Most children with CHARGE syndrome also have characteristic facial features that include:
What does a diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome mean for a child?
The symptoms of CHARGE syndrome vary greatly from child to child. The prognosis and amount of disability depends entirely on the defects involved. Children with heart, oral, and renal defects may need immediate surgery to correct defects that are life threatening.
Early diagnosis, treatment, and intervention are very important for every child diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome. Development of an individual plan of care, for the individual child is essential to assure the best prognosis and optimum health and development for the child.
Many children with CHARGE syndrome have hearing and vision problems. These children will require specialized educational programs. The incidence of cognitive delays in children with CHARGE syndrome is probably 50% or less. Some children with CHARGE syndrome have specific learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Many adults with CHARGE syndrome live independently and develop normal intelligence.
Behavior problems are common in children with CHARGE syndrome. These may be due largely to vision and hearing losses, difficulties with communication, and delayed motor skills. Early intervention with these deficiencies may be helpful in preventing and controlling the behaviors.
How is CHARGE syndrome treated?
Treatment for CHARGE syndrome depends on the specific anomalies involved. Identification in the new-born period is essential to address life-threatening disorders. Children with CHARGE derive the greatest benefit from early intervention and specialized educational programs that address hearing and vision deficits, movement, and sensorimotor interventions.
What does a parent of a child with CHARGE syndrome need to do?
A parent of a child with CHARGE syndrome should take a role in planning for your child’s care. They should ask question of all the healthcare professionals involved, request referral to specialists, and insist on speech and hearing evaluations as early as possible.
In order to ensure an educational program that will allows the child to reach his or her full potential parents need to take on the role of advocate. Children with CHARGE syndrome vary greatly in their abilities in the classroom. Some may need very little support, while others require full-time support and individualized programs.