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Disease Profile

Caffey disease

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.

Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Infantile cortical hyperostosis


Congenital and Genetic Diseases; Musculoskeletal Diseases


Caffey disease is a bone disorder that most often occurs in babies. It is characterized by the excessive formation of new bone (hyperostosis) in the jaw, shoulder blades, collarbones, and shafts of long bones in the arms and legs. Affected bones may double or triple in width. In some cases, two bones that are next to each other may become fused. Caffey disease is caused by a mutation in the COL1A1 gene. It is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, but not all people who inherit the mutation develop signs and symptoms. This is due to incomplete penetrance.[1]


Caffey disease is characterized by excessive new bone formation (hyperostosis). The bone abnormalities mainly affect the jawbone, shoulder blades, collarbones, and the shafts of long bones in the arms and legs. Affected bones may double or triple in width. In some cases, two bones in the forearms or lower legs become fused together. Babies with this condition may also develop swelling of joints and soft tissues with pain and redness in the affected areas. They may also be feverish and irritable.[1] 

The signs and symptoms of Caffey disease are usually apparent by the time an infant is 5 months old. In rare cases, skeletal abnormalities can be detected by ultrasound during the late stages of pregnancy. For unknown reasons, the swelling and pain associated with Caffey disease tend to go away within a few months. The excess bone also disappears as it is reabsorbed by the body through a normal process called bone remodeling. If two bones have been fused, they may remain that way, which can lead to complications such as scoliosis and breathing problems.[1]

Most people with Caffey syndrome have no further problems related to the disorder after early childhood. Occasionally, another episode of hyperostosis occurs years later. In addition, some adults who had Caffey disease have other abnormalities of the bones and connective tissues, including loose joints, stretchy skin or hernias.[1]

This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Bacterial infection of skin
Skin infection

[ more ]

Cortical irregularity
30%-79% of people have these symptoms
Behavioral abnormality
Behavioral changes
Behavioral disorders
Behavioral disturbances
Behavioral problems
Behavioral/psychiatric abnormalities
Behavioural/Psychiatric abnormality
Psychiatric disorders
Psychiatric disturbances

[ more ]

Periosteal thickening of long tubular bones
5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Calvarial hyperostosis
Overgrowth of skullcap
Cortical thickening of long bone diaphyses
Facial asymmetry
Asymmetry of face
Crooked face
Unsymmetrical face

[ more ]

Feeding difficulties in infancy
Increased circulating antibody level
Bulging eye
Eyeballs bulging out
Prominent eyes
Prominent globes
Protruding eyes

[ more ]

Respiratory insufficiency
Respiratory impairment
Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Autosomal dominant inheritance
Tibial bowing
Bowed shankbone
Bowed shinbone

[ more ]



Making a diagnosis for a genetic or rare disease can often be challenging. Healthcare professionals typically look at a person’s medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and laboratory test results in order to make a diagnosis. The following resources provide information relating to diagnosis and testing for this condition. If you have questions about getting a diagnosis, you should contact a healthcare professional.

Testing Resources

  • The Genetic Testing Registry (GTR) provides information about the genetic tests for this condition. The intended audience for the GTR is health care providers and researchers. Patients and consumers with specific questions about a genetic test should contact a health care provider or a genetics professional.

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

Where to Start

  • Genetics Home Reference contains information on Caffey disease. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

In-Depth Information

  • GeneReviews provides current, expert-authored, peer-reviewed, full-text articles describing the application of genetic testing to the diagnosis, management, and genetic counseling of patients with specific inherited conditions.
  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Caffey disease. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


  1. Caffey disease. Genetics Home Reference (GHR). April 2013; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/caffey-disease. Accessed 4/15/2014.

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