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Genet Med. 2006 Jan;8(1):50-4.

The diagnostic utility of a genetics evaluation in children with pervasive developmental disorders.

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Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, 300 Pasteur Drive, H-315, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.



A genetics evaluation of children with pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) identifies a diagnosis in 6% to 15% of cases. However, previous studies have not measured the incidence of genetic disorders among children with autistic-like features who do not necessarily meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria for PDD.


We identified 101 patients at our institution referred for PDD, autism, Asperger syndrome, or autistic features. Seventy-eight were males and 23 were females, giving a male-to-female ratio of 3.4:1. No diagnosis was identified on examination alone, although Rett syndrome was suspected in six females. Seventeen patients did not undergo any type of testing because of noncompliance.


Of the remaining 84 patients analyzed, seven (8.3%) were found to have abnormalities on testing. Three chromosomal anomalies were found: one with 5p duplication, one with low-level mosaicism for trisomy 21, and one with an unbalanced 10;22 translocation. Three females were diagnosed with Rett syndrome after MECP2 analysis identified a disease-causing mutation. The remaining patient was found to have an elevated urine orotic acid, with a normal ammonia level, of unknown significance.


On the basis of our series, the yield of a genetics evaluation in patients with features of PDD who do not necessarily meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria is 8.3%. Approximately half of these were the result of a chromosomal abnormality. Three cases of Rett syndrome were identified for which autistic behaviors are a well-described feature. These findings suggest that a high-resolution karyotype provides the greatest diagnostic yield for patients with autistic-like features. MECP2 analysis should be considered for females who present with autistic behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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