Joubert syndrome is a rare brain malformation characterized by the absence or underdevelopment of the cerebellar vermis - an area of the brain that controls balance and coordination. The most common features of Joubert syndrome in infants include abnormally rapid breathing ( hyperpnea ), jerky eye movements, mental retardation, and the inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements ( ataxia ). Physical deformities may be present, such as extra fingers and toes, cleft lip or palate, and tongue abnormalities. Seizures may also occur. Most cases of Joubert syndrome are sporadic (in other words, no other family member has the disorder), but in some families, Joubert syndrome appears to be inherited via a recessive gene.

Treatment for Joubert syndrome is symptomatic and supportive. Infant stimulation and physical, occupational, and speech therapy may benefit some children. Infants with abnormal breathing patterns should be monitored

The prognosis for infants with Joubert syndrome depends on whether or not the cerebellar vermis is entirely absent or partially developed. Some children have a mild form of the disorder, with minimal motor disability and good mental development, while others may have severe motor disability and moderate mental retardation.

Prepared by the National Institutes of Health