Pediatric joint hypermobility: a diagnostic framework and narrative review

Louise Jane Tofts, Jane Simmonds, Sarah B. Schwartz, Roberto M. Richheimer, Constance O’Connor, Ellen Elias, Raoul Engelbert, Katie Cleary, Brad T. Tinkle, Antonie D. Kline, Alan J. Hakim*, Marion A. J. van Rossum, Verity Pacey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Hypermobile Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (hEDS) and hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD) are debilitating conditions. Diagnosis is currently clinical in the absence of biomarkers, and criteria developed for adults are difficult to use in children and biologically immature adolescents. Generalized joint hypermobility (GJH) is a prerequisite for hEDS and generalized HSD. Current literature identifies a large proportion of children as hypermobile using a Beighton score ≥ 4 or 5/9, the cut off for GJH in adults. Other phenotypic features from the 2017 hEDS criteria can arise over time. Finally, many comorbidities described in hEDS/HSD are also seen in the general pediatric and adolescent population. Therefore, pediatric specific criteria are needed. The Paediatric Working Group of the International Consortium on EDS and HSD has developed a pediatric diagnostic framework presented here. The work was informed by a review of the published evidence. Observations: The framework has 4 components, GJH, skin and tissue abnormalities, musculoskeletal complications, and core comorbidities. A Beighton score of ≥ 6/9 best identifies children with GJH at 2 standard deviations above average, based on published general population data. Skin and soft tissue changes include soft skin, stretchy skin, atrophic scars, stretch marks, piezogenic papules, and recurrent hernias. Two symptomatic groups were agreed: musculoskeletal and systemic. Emerging comorbid relationships are discussed. The framework generates 8 subgroups, 4 pediatric GJH, and 4 pediatric generalized hypermobility spectrum disorders. hEDS is reserved for biologically mature adolescents who meet the 2017 criteria, which also covers even rarer types of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome at any age. Conclusions: This framework allows hypermobile children to be categorized into a group describing their phenotypic and symptomatic presentation. It clarifies the recommendation that comorbidities should be defined using their current internationally accepted frameworks. This provides a foundation for improving clinical care and research quality in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalOrphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Ehlers–Danlos syndrome
  • Joint hypermobility


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