Turner syndrome is generally characterised by short stature and non-functioning ovaries, usually leading to the absence of pubertal development and infertility. Growth hormone secretion is nearly always normal. The ovaries normally produce the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone during puberty however, most girls who have Turner syndrome will not produce these sex hormones, which means that they:
- may not start their periods naturally
- may not fully develop breasts
- may be infertile (unable to conceive a baby).
Other physical features associated with Turner syndrome may include coarctation of the aorta (narrowing of part of the aorta - the major artery leading out of the heart), webbing of the neck (skin fold that runs along the sides of the neck down to the shoulders), wide spaced nipples and puffy hands and feet. This is due to lymphoedema - a condition where when excess fluid is unable to drain from the organs and body and leaks into the surrounding tissues. Sleeping and feeding difficulties may occur in early childhood and though intelligence spans the normal range there can be learning and behavioural difficulties. Verbal abilities are often found to be significantly better than visuo-spatial abilities (abilities to judge spaces and shapes).
Many affected girls experience difficulties in their peer relationships. They may seem immature, have poor social skills and be unassertive, shy and socially anxious. They may also have difficulties related to poor concentration, distractibility and overactivity. There is a risk of low self-esteem, and social withdrawal and depression in adulthood. That said, many adult women attain high goals in their personal, academic and occupational lives.