International Angelman Day, observed annually on February 15, raises awareness for Angelman Syndrome – a rare, neurogenetic disorder that affects chromosome 15, resulting in intellectual and developmental delay. About 1 in 20,000 people are affected. The observed date is in recognition of the 15th chromosome affected, and February is International Rare Disease month. The purpose of International Angelman Syndrome Day is to raise worldwide awareness of this condition, mobilize people to action, encourage fundraising, promote research and educational resources, and remember those affected with Angelman Syndrome.
Angelman syndrome is a complex genetic disorder that primarily affects the nervous system. Characteristic features of this condition include delayed development, intellectual disability, severe speech impairment, and problems with movement and balance (ataxia). Most affected children also have recurrent seizures (epilepsy) and a small head size (microcephaly). Delayed development becomes noticeable by the age of six to twelve months, and other common signs and symptoms usually appear in early childhood.