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Lancet. 1992 May 16;339(8803):1210-3.

Population screening for fragile X.

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Fragile X Programme, Prince of Wales Children's Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


A screening programme to detect fragile X syndrome has been operating in New South Wales, Australia, since 1984. The aim of this programme is to find previously unidentified individuals with the syndrome so that their extended families can be properly informed of the risks before making decisions about childbearing. 14,225 individuals attending adult and child facilities for the intellectually handicapped have been screened, of whom 8172 have been offered testing for the fragile X syndrome with a 79% uptake of the service. 253 probands were found, and in the extended families 818 females at 25-100% risk of being carriers were interviewed and counselled. Continuing contact was maintained and prenatal diagnosis was offered. The effect of the programme was assessed in a subgroup of 90 individuals, most of whom were appreciative of the service and felt that they had been adequately informed. The influence of knowing the diagnosis and its genetic implications were also assessed, the main consequences being a 26% reduction in births and a 61% uptake of prenatal diagnosis. Improved techniques for diagnosis of fragile X have benefited the families identified and counselled, suggesting that systematic screening for fragile X should be an essential component of community genetic services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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