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Prader-Willi syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Obesity, muscular hypotonia, mental retardation, short stature, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, and small hands and feet
  • Prader Labhart Willi syndrome
  • PWS
  • Willi-Prader syndrome
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Your Question

My foster child will be tested for Prader-Willi syndrome, but has a very high IQ. Is it possible for people with Prader-Willi to have high IQs?  

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Is it possible for people with Prader-Willi syndrome to have high IQs?

Most people with Prader-Willi syndrome have mild to moderate intellectual impairment and learning disabilities.[1] One study found that people with Prader-Willi syndrome showed a range of IQ’s, with an overall average IQ of 60. This average is 40 points lower than the general population average.[2]  Some people with Prader-Willi syndrome have IQ's that are above the accepted learning disability range with reports of IQ’s of 103 and 105. [3][4][5]Although their IQ's may be equal to the average IQ of the general population, people with Prader-Willi syndrome can have a lack of understanding for abstract concepts and may experience difficulty relating to peers.[5][6]
Last updated: 5/31/2011

  • Prader-Willi syndrome. Genetics Home Reference (GHR). July 2009; Accessed 3/24/2011.
  • J Whittington, A Holland, T Webb, J Butler, D Clark, and H Boer. Academic underachievement by people with Prader-Willi syndrome. J Intellect Disabil Res. February 2004. Available at: Accessed May 31, 2011..
  • Council for Exceptional Children. Prader-Willi Syndrome. Counsel for Exceptional Children. 2010; Accessed 5/27/2010.
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child & Human Development. Prader-Willi syndrome. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child & Human Development. March 2010; Accessed 5/27/2011.
  • J Whittington, A Holland, and T Webb. Relationship between the IQ of people with Prader-Willi syndrome and that of their siblings: evidence for imprinted gene effects. J Intellect Disabil Res. May 2009. Available at:;jsessionid=2FD11FCABAC56019B3D323E3C332A051.d01t03?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+disrupted+4+June+from+10-12+BST+for+monthly+maintenance. Accessed May 31, 2011..
  • J Whittington and A Holland. Neurobehavioral phenotype in Prader-Willi syndrome. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet. November 2010. Available at: Accessed May 31, 2011. .