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In addition to having constant hunger, people with Prader-Willi syndrome have low muscle mass, so they need fewer than average calories, and they may not be physically active. This combination of factors makes them prone to obesity and the medical problems related to obesity, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Other complications, such as an increased risk of liver disease and gallbladder stones
Complications of inadequate hormone production
Complications arising from inadequate hormone production may include:
- Sterility. Although there have been a few reports of women with Prader-Willi syndrome becoming pregnant, most people with this disorder are unable to have children.
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle, so they may break easily. People with Prader-Willi syndrome are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis because they have low levels of sex hormones and may also have low levels of growth hormone — both hormones help maintain strong bones.
Other complications that can result from Prader-Willi syndrome include:
- Effects of binge eating. Eating large amounts of food quickly, called binge eating, can cause the stomach to become abnormally enlarged. People with Prader-Willi syndrome may not report pain and they rarely vomit. Binge eating can also cause choking. Rarely, a person may eat so much that it causes stomach rupture.
- Reduced quality of life. Behavioral problems can interfere with family functioning, successful education and social participation. They can also reduce the quality of life for children, teenagers and adults with Prader-Willi syndrome.