What are the recurrence risks for parents and patients with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC)?

Updated: Nov 11, 2020
  • Author: Mithilesh Kumar Lal, MD, MBBS, MRCP, FRCPCH, MRCPCH(UK); Chief Editor: Maria Descartes, MD  more...
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Identifying the causes of arthrogryposis remains vital for determining the management, prognosis, predicting recurrence risks and counselling couples. Early diagnosis allows for institution of appropriate investigations and offering patients informed choice including the option of termination if indicated. Multidisciplinary work by obstetricians, geneticists, neonatologists, and pediatric pathologists optimizes the chances of achieving a diagnosis and providing parents with accurate and appropriate information to enable them make informed choices with regards to their pregnancy. [43]

Recurrence risk depends on whether the contractures are extrinsically or intrinsically derived. Extrinsically derived contractures have a low recurrence risk, whereas the recurrence risk for intrinsically derived contractures depends on etiology. Arthrogryposis may be inherited in the following ways with different recurrence risks, and the patient and parents should know this information [44] :

  • Autosomal dominant: Recurrence risk to offspring is 50% (eg, distal arthrogryposis).
  • Autosomal recessive: Recurrence risk to offspring is 25%, and both parents are obligatory carriers (eg, lethal multiple pterygium syndrome).
  • X-linked recessive: All daughters of affected males are carriers. Their sons have a 50% chance of being affected, and their daughters have a 50% chance of being carriers (eg, severe lethal, moderately severe, and resolving types of X-linked arthrogryposis).
  • Multifactorial: Combined effects of multiple genes and environmental factors cause multifactorial traits. For most multifactorial diseases, empirical risks (risks based on direct observation of data) have been derived. For example, empirical recurrence risks of neural tube defects for siblings of an affected individual range from 2-5% in most populations.
  • Mitochondrial: A small but significant number of diseases are caused by mitochondrial mutations. Because of the unique properties of mitochondria, these diseases display characteristic modes of inheritance (ie, inherited exclusively through the maternal line) and wide phenotypic variability. Only females can transmit the disease mutation to their offspring (eg, distal type IIB arthrogryposis).


For families in which a specific diagnosis cannot be made, the empiric recurrence risk to unaffected parents of an affected child, or to the affected individual with arthrogryposis, ranges from 3-5%.

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