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International Angelman Day – February 15, 2023

Every year, International Angelman Day (I.A.D.) is observed on February 15 to create awareness about Angelman Syndrome, a neurogenetic disorder affecting chromosome 15 that causes intellectual and developmental delays. Angelman Syndrome is a rare disorder occurring in one out of 15,000 babies. It affects males and females equally. The name originated with English pediatrician Harry Angelman, who initially referred to the condition of three of his patients as “Puppet Children.” Today, over 490,000 people live with Angelman Syndrome worldwide. You can show your support by checking out community resources and wearing blue angel wings or ribbons.

History of International Angelman Day

Harry Angelman first discovered the neurogenetic disorder Angelman Syndrome at Warrington General Hospital in 1956. Although the condition had no name at the time, the symptoms in each person were similar; motor disorders, intellectual delay, a happy demeanor, and lack of speech. Angelman visited the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona during a trip to Italy and discovered a painting by Giovanni Francesco Caro called, ‘A boy with the puppet.’ As he looked at the artistic impression, images of his patients came to mind, which led him to write an article about their condition entitled “Puppet Children.”

There was little data on the condition until 1982. Dr. Charles Williams and Dr. Jaime Frias of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, successfully submitted a paper to the American Journal of Medical Genetics describing six patients and comparing their results to previous reports. The report included symptoms similar to those described by Angelman, including severe developmental delay, a puppet-like gait, craniofacial abnormalities, and frequent laughter. Thus, Williams and Frais proposed the disorder be named Angelman Syndrome.

Williams founded the Angelman Research Group (A.R.G.) to facilitate and support research and education concerning Angelman Syndrome in 1986. By 1990, the A.R.G. had formed the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. Two parents with children suffering from Angelman Syndrome came up with the idea for International Angelman Day. National Angelman Syndrome organizations worldwide accepted this idea, and the unanimous date of February 15 was agreed on. The first commemoration of this day was in 2013.

International Angelman Day timeline

1956
Initial Discovery

Dr. Harry Angelman discovers Angelman Syndrome symptoms.

1986
The Neurogenetic Disorder

Dr. Charles Williams and Dr. Jaime Frais name the genetic disorder Angelman Syndrome after Dr. Harry Angelman.

1990
Angelman Syndrome Foundation

Dr. Charles Williams and the Angelman Research Group start the Angelman Syndrome Foundation to educate and facilitate research on Angelman neurogenetic disorder.

2012
International Angelman Day

The idea for International Angelman Day starts with two affected families on different sides of the world.

2013
First Inaugural Event

The first inaugural event for International Angelman Day takes place.

International Angelman Day FAQs

Are there support groups for Angelman Syndrome?

There are non-profit advocacy groups, such as the Angelman Syndrome Foundation or the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome. There are also therapeutics that offer support to patients and families.

How common is Angelman Syndrome?

Angelman Syndrome affects an estimated one in 12,000 to 20,000 people.

What is the Angelman syndrome symbol?

The Angelman Syndrome symbol is a blue ribbon or a blue set of wings.

How to Observe International Angelman Day

  1. Join a committee or group

    You can make a difference by using your skills and areas of interest. Help others and join any committee listed on the Angelman Foundation website.

  2. Volunteer

    Another way to observe International Angelman Day is by volunteering, either by assisting with the coordination of A.S.F. walks or donating. Every little bit helps.

  3. Spread and create awareness

    Educate yourself about Angelman Syndrome and help share media content and information to create awareness. The more people know about this disease, the better.

5 Important Facts About Angelman Syndrome

  1. Infants appear normal at birth

    Children born with Angelman Syndrome do not exhibit symptoms until six to 12 months.

  2. There is no treatment

    A wide range of clinical therapies, including medical treatment for seizures, and physical, communication, and behavioral therapies, are offered to help patients achieve maximum development.

  3. Angelman Syndrome life expectancy

    The life expectancy for individuals with Angelman Syndrome appears to be nearly normal.

  4. Affects both genders

    Angelman Syndrome affects both males and females equally.

  5. Angelman Syndrome causes imprinting

    Genomic imprinting is a key phenomenon associated with Angelman Syndrome.

Why International Angelman Day is Important

  1. It serves as a memorial

    International Angelman Day allows us to remember people with Angelman Syndrome who have passed away. This process is also a vital step in the grieving process.

  2. It creates awareness

    International Angelman Day aids in raising global awareness about the condition and promotes collaboration in research and education. Spreading accurate information can be life-changing for people dealing with the syndrome.

  3. It creates a community

    International Angelman Day creates a community for families with children who have the syndrome to come together for support and encouragement. A little support from someone who understands what you’re going through makes a huge difference.

International Angelman Day dates

YearDateDay
2023February 15Wednesday
2024February 15Thursday
2025February 15Saturday
2026February 15Sunday
2027February 15Monday

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