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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Swyer-James syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Swyer-James-MacLeod syndrome
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What causes Swyer-James syndrome?

The cause of Swyer-James syndrome is not completely understood. Most experts agree that the initial abnormality occurs in the distal bronchi (air tubes that bring air to and from the lungs) after an infection during early childhood. The smaller size of the affected lung may be due to the infection inhibiting the normal growth of the lung. A number of reports have described Swyer-James syndrome following childhood histories including radiation therapy; measles; pertussis (whooping cough); tuberculosis; breathing in a foreign body; mycoplasma; and viral infections, especially adenovirus. Research has suggested that a hyper-immune reaction in the lung (producing an unusual abundance of antibodies) may play a role in sustaining airway damage after the initial infection. Some have argued a pre-existing lung abnormality may predispose individuals to the condition. Although bronchial damage of some kind during childhood is generally considered to play an important role, many affected individuals have had no known history of an airway infection. It is possible that some unknown factors present at birth may contribute to the development of Swyer-James syndrome.[1]
Last updated: 10/21/2011

  1. Bai Chong, Song Xiao-lian, Shi Hui, Yao Xiao-Peng and Li Qiang. Swyer-James Syndrome with Peculiar Course and Ipsilateral Pulmonary Vein Defect. Internal Medicine. 2011; 50:1829-1833.