South African Journal of Psychiatry

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Early-onset psychosis in an adolescent with DiGeorge syndrome: A case report

Keneilwe Molebatsi, Anthony A. Olashore


DiGeorge syndrome (DGS) was first described in 1829 by Dr Angelo DiGeorge. DGS is a cluster of symptoms because of a defect in the development of the pharyngeal pouch. Evidence from cytogenetic studies has linked the pathogenesis of DGS with a deletion of a gene located in chromosome 22-band 22q11. In most affected individuals, the deletion is de novo; however, inheritance has been reported in 10% – 25% of patients. DGS commonly presents with a classical triad of conotruncal cardiac anomalies, hypoplastic thymus and hypocalcaemia. DGS may be of focus to a psychiatrist as it is associated with cognitive deficits, high rates of schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Patients may also present to mental health care workers with learning disabilities, developmental delay and behavioural disorders such as attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder. Mental health workers therefore play an invaluable role in the diagnosis and timely treatment of the disorder. In a resource-limited area such as Botswana, with scarce mental health professionals, paediatricians and neurologists, DGS may be frequently misdiagnosed with consequent inappropriate interventions that may increase morbidity. Herein, we present a case to raise awareness and demonstrate one of the varied ways the syndrome may present. The multifaceted nature of DGS presentation underscores the need for a multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
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