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Research Letter
February 20, 2020

Public Awareness of Cleidocranial Dysplasia After Season Releases of Stranger Things

Author Affiliations
  • 1Office of Medical Student Research, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa
  • 2Oklahoma State University, Tulsa
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020;146(4):377-378. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2019.4791

Collectively, rare disorders affect approximately 400 million people worldwide, posing a significant medical and economic burden for both patients and the health care system.1 Groups of patients with rare disorders have difficulty advocating for themselves owing to a lack of funds, outreach, or manpower. Solutions are thus needed to promote awareness.

Television portrayals of rare disorders may affect public awareness of these disorders, especially on shows with broad viewership. The Netflix original series Stranger Things features actor Gaten Matarazzo III, who was born with the rare disorder cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD), a disorder he shares with the character whom he portrays, Dustin Henderson. The most prominent features of CCD—absent or abnormal bone growth of the clavicles and teeth—have been featured in scenes in which Dustin educates his peers about his disorder. In this study, we used Google Trends and CCD-related foundation website data to investigate the association of television portrayals of CCD with public interest and awareness of the disorder.