A female infant with severe mental retardation, general hypotonicity, and a history of generalised oedema, cyanosis, heart murmur, and nystagmus in the first days of life was found to have both a translocation and a deletion. Her karyotype was 46,XX,del(21)t(18;21)(18p ter leads to 18q11::21q21 leads to 21qter;21pter leads to 21q11::18q11 leads to 18q ter). The karyotype of both parents was normal. The proposita is the result of a three break point exchange and is monosomic for part of the dark band q11 q21 of chromosome 21. It is suggested that in cases with mental retardation and apparent balanced de novo reciprocal translocation a small undetected deletion in one of the chromosomes involved in the translocation could explain the mental retardation.
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