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Hum Genet. 2003 Jul;113(1):76-9. Epub 2003 Mar 15.

Fetal DNA in maternal serum: does it persist after pregnancy?

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Maternité, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France.


Fetal DNA and cells present in maternal blood have previously been used for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. However, some fetal cells can persist in maternal blood after a previous pregnancy. Fetal rhesus status and sex determination have been performed by using amplification by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of fetal DNA sequences present in maternal circulation; no false-positive results related to persistent fetal DNA from a previous pregnancy have been reported. This idea has recently been challenged. An SRY real-time PCR assay was performed on the serum of 67 pregnant women carrying a female fetus but having previously given birth to at least one boy and on the serum of 30 healthy non-pregnant women with a past male pregnancy. In all cases, serum was negative for the SRY gene. These data suggest that fetal DNA from a previous pregnancy cannot be detected in maternal serum, even by using a highly sensitive technique. Therefore, non-invasive prenatal diagnosis by fetal sex determination for women at risk of producing children with X-linked disorders, and fetal RHD genotyping is reliable and secure as previously demonstrated.

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