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SUNY Upstate's Shprintzen opens VCFS Foundation in Australia

Robert J. Shprintzen, Ph.D., director of the Communication Disorder Unit and the Center for the Diagnosis, Treatment and Study of Velo-Cardio Facial Syndrome at SUNY Upstate Medical University, now has support in Australia for helping children diagnosed with the medical condition he discovered in 1978.

The Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome (VCFS) Foundation, which was founded at SUNY Upstate in 1994, has established a chapter in Australia. Shprintzen gave the keynote address at the group's inaugural meeting in Brisbane, held in November.

The foundation provides parent to parent networking, disseminates information about the genetic disorder and will bring experts and others to Australia to talk with families and health care practitioners.

Shprintzen Syndrome, otherwise known as Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome, is a genetic disorder that causes cleft palate, heart defects and abnormal facial appearance and learning problems. While the cause of Shprintzen Syndrome is unknown, scientists have found that most children identified as having the condition are missing a small piece of chromosome 22. The condition occurs as often as one in every 2,000 births.

In addition to Australia, VCFS foundations can be found in England, France and Canada. "The foundation's provide great support for families and others trying to cope with and better understand this condition," Shprintzen said.

Shprintzen resides in Manlius.