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Trisomy 13

Alternative names    

Patau syndrome


Trisomy 13 is a syndrome associated with the presence of a third (extra) number 13 chromosome.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors    

Trisomy 13 occurs in about 1 out of every 5,000 live births. It is a syndrome with multiple abnormalities, many of which are not compatible with more than a few months of life. Almost half of the affected infants do not survive beyond the first month, and about three quarters die within 6 months.

Trisomy 13 is associated with multiple abnormalities, including severe mental defects and defects of the brain that lead to seizures (hypsarrhythmia), apnea, deafness, and ocular (relating to the eye) abnormalities.

The eyes are small with defects in the iris (coloboma). Most infants have a cleft lip and cleft palate, and low-set ears. Congenital heart disease is present in approximately 80% of affected infants. Hernias and genital abnormalities are common.


Signs and tests   

The infant may have a single umbilical artery at birth. There are often signs of congenital heart disease:

Gastrointestinal X-rays or ultrasound may reveal abnormal rotation of the internal organs.

MRI or CT scans of the head may reveal a structural abnormality of the brain, called holoprosencephaly, where the 2 cerebral hemispheres are fused.

Chromosome studies show trisomy 13, partial trisomy, trisomy 13 mosaic, or translocation


Because of the severity of congenital defects, life-sustaining procedures are generally not attempted.

Support Groups    

Support Organization for Trisomy 18, 13 and Related Disorders (SOFT)
2982 S. Union St.
Rochester, NY 14624
800-716-SOFT (7638)

Expectations (prognosis)    

Extremely short survival time is expected -- 80% of babies die in the first month of life. Survivors have severe mental defects. Rarely, affected persons survive to adulthood.


Complications begin almost immediately. They include breathing difficulty or lack of breathing (apnea), deafness, vision problems, feeding problems, seizures, heart failure, and others.

Calling your health care provider    

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have had a child with Trisomy 13, and you plan to have another child.


Trisomy 13 can be diagnosed prenatally by amniocentesis with chromosome studies of the amniotic cells. Trisomy 13 mosaicism and partial trisomy 13 also occur. Parents of infants with translocation type trisomy 13 should also have translocation studies.

Update Date: 8/19/2003

Updated by: Douglas R. Stewart, M.D., Division of Medical Genetics, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.


Patau syndrome, Trisomy 13, is the least common of the autosomal trisomies, after Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) and Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18). The extra copy of chromosome 13 in Patau syndrome causes severe neurological and heart defects which make it difficult for infants to survive. The exact incidence of Patau syndrome is not known, although it appears to affect females more than males, most likely because male fetuses do not survive until birth. Patau syndrome, like Down syndrome, is associated with increased age of the mother. It may affect individuals of all ethnic backgrounds.

Newborns with Patau syndrome share common physical characteristics:

The symptoms of Patau syndrome are evident at birth. Patau syndrome may be mistaken for Edwards syndrome, so genetic testing should be done to confirm the diagnosis. Imaging studies such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should be done to look for brain, heart, and kidney defects. An ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram) should be done given the high frequency of heart defects associated with Patau syndrome.

Treatment of Patau syndrome focuses on the particular physical problems with which each child is born. Many infants have difficulty surviving the first few days or weeks due to severe neurological problems or complex heart defects. Surgery may be necessary to repair heart defects or cleft lip and cleft palate. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy will help individuals with Patau syndrome reach their full developmental potential.

Genetic counseling and support
Parents of a child born with Patau syndrome will receive genetic counseling to determine what their risk is of having another child with the syndrome. A good resource for information and support is the Support Organization for Trisomy 18, 13 and other Related Disorders (S.O.F.T.).


Trisomy 13

Trisomy 13 Syndrome - WebbMD


Clinical Studies and Abstracts:


Are all cases of low-grade mosaic trisomy 13 in amniotic fluid with no fetal malformation in fact confined placental mosaicism? A case report.

2011 Nov 10

Natural outcome of trisomy 13, trisomy 18, and triploidy after prenatal diagnosis.

11 OCT 2011

Birth history, physical characteristics, and medical conditions in long-term survivors with full trisomy 13.

 2011 Nov;

Prenatally detected congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation and postnatally diagnosed trisomy 13: case report and review of the literature.

2011 May-Jun

Noninvasive prenatal diagnosis of fetal trisomy 18 and trisomy 13 by maternal plasma DNA sequencing.

Dichorionic triamniotic triplet pregnancy with monozygotic twins discordant for trisomy 13 after preimplantation genetic screening: case report.

April 2008



Intensive cardiac management in patients with trisomy 13 or trisomy 18

Am J Med Genet A. 2008 Apr

Wiley InterScience


Placental mesenchymal dysplasia associated with trisomy 13: Sonographic findings

J Clin Ultrasound. 2008 Mar 24

Wiley InterScience


The risk of fetal loss following a prenatal diagnosis of trisomy 13 or trisomy 18

Am J Med Genet A. 2008 Apr

Wiley InterScience


Trisomies 13 and 18: population prevalences, characteristics, and prenatal diagnosis, metropolitan Atlanta, 1994-2003.

Am J Med Genet A. 2008 Apr

Wiley InterScience


Temporal bone study of trisomy 13 syndrome

Laryngoscope. 2008 Mar

Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins


The prenatal detection of trisomy 13, 18, and 21: comparison of the advanced first trimester screening (AFS) with the first trimester screening according to Nicolaides

Z Geburtshilfe Neonatol. 2007 Dec



Histogenesis of retinal dysplasia in trisomy 13

Diagn Pathol. 2007 Dec

Diagnostic Pathology


The origin of trisomy 13

Am J Med Genet A. 2007 Oct



Sonographic detection of trisomy 13 in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy

J Ultrasound Med. 2007 Sep

Journal Ultrasound


Scotosensitive and photosensitive myoclonic seizures in an infant with trisomy 13.

Epilepsia. 2007 Nov



Trisomy 13 correlates with RUNX1 mutation and increased FLT3 expression in AML-M0 patients.

Haematologica. 2007 Aug



External Links and Resources:


Living with Trisomy 13


Hope for Trisomy 13 & 18


Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13)


Genetics Home Reference


ICD-10 and ICD-9


ICD-10: Q91

Edwards' syndrome and Patau's syndrome
Q91.0 Trisomy 18, meiotic nondisjunction
Q91.1 Trisomy 18, mosaicism (mitotic nondisjunction)
Q91.2 Trisomy 18, translocation
Q91.3 Edwards' syndrome, unspecified
Q91.4 Trisomy 13, meiotic nondisjunction
Q91.5 Trisomy 13, mosaicism (mitotic nondisjunction)
Q91.6 Trisomy 13, translocation
Q91.7 Patau's syndrome, unspecified


2008 ICD-9-CM Diagnosis 758.1

Patau's syndrome

  • The presence of an additional (third) chromosome on an otherwise diploid chromosome 13 with variable abnormalities, most characteristic of which are microcephaly, microphthalmia, hypertelorism, cleft lip or palate, polydactyly, and cardiovascular, genitourinary, and neurological abnormalities. It is one of the most frequent causes of perinatal deaths.
  • 758.1 is a specific code that can be used to specify a diagnosis
  • 758.1 contains 19 index entries
  • View the ICD-9-CM Volume 1 758.* hierarchy

758.1 also known as:

  • Trisomy:
    • 13
    • D1
DiseasesDB 13373
eMedicine ped/1745 


see also:

Trisomy Disorders


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