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Fetal Diagn Ther. 2007;22(2):155-8. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Prenatal diagnosis and genetic counseling in a case of spina bifida in a family with Waardenburg syndrome type I.

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Institute of Human Genetics, Medical Faculty, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.



Waardenburg syndrome type I (WS I) is an autosomal dominant inherited disorder with an incidence of 1:45,000 in Europe. Mutations within the PAX3 gene are responsible for the clinical phenotype ranging from mild facial features to severe malformations detectable in prenatal diagnosis.


Here, we report a four-generation family with several affected members showing various symptoms of WS I. We diagnosed the syndrome first in a pregnant young woman; she was referred because of a spina bifida in prenatal diagnosis. We performed clinical genetic investigations and molecular genetic analysis in all available family members.


The phenotype displays a wide intra-familial clinical variability of pigmentary disturbances, facial anomalies and developmental defects. Molecular studies identified a novel splice site mutation within the PAX3 gene in intron 5 in all affected family members, but in none of the unaffected relatives.


This case demonstrates the prenatal diagnosis of spina bifida in a fetus which leads to the initial diagnosis of WS I. Further studies could identify a private splice site mutation within the PAX3 gene responsible for the phenotype in this family.

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