Diseases & Conditions
Rett's disorder is a rare genetic disorder occurring in girls that causes impaired social interactions, loss of language skills, and repetitive hand movements.
A girl with Rett's disorder appears to develop normally until some time between the age of 5 months and 4 years. When the disorder begins, the growth of her head slows and her language and social skills deteriorate. Typically, she displays repetitive hand motions resembling washing or wringing. Purposeful hand movements are lost, walking is impaired, and trunk movements are clumsy. Mental retardation develops and is usually severe.
Slight spontaneous improvements in social interaction may occur in late childhood and early adolescence, but the language and behavior problems progress. Most girls with Rett's disorder need full-time care and specialized educational programs. There is no cure.
Last full review/revision February 2003
Source: The Merck Manual Home Edition