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Genet Med. 2018 Apr;20(5):513-523. doi: 10.1038/gim.2017.134. Epub 2017 Oct 26.

Reproductive genetic carrier screening for cystic fibrosis, fragile X syndrome, and spinal muscular atrophy in Australia: outcomes of 12,000 tests.

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Victorian Clinical Genetics Services, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


PurposeTo describe our experience of offering simultaneous genetic carrier screening for cystic fibrosis (CF), fragile X syndrome (FXS), and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).MethodsCarrier screening is offered through general practice, obstetrics, fertility, and genetics settings before or in early pregnancy. Carriers are offered genetic counseling with prenatal/preimplantation genetic diagnosis available to those at increased risk.ResultsScreening of 12,000 individuals revealed 610 carriers (5.08%; 1 in 20): 342 CF, 35 FXS, 241 SMA (8 carriers of 2 conditions), approximately 88% of whom had no family history. At least 94% of CF and SMA carriers' partners were tested. Fifty couples (0.42%; 1 in 240) were at increased risk of having a child with one of the conditions (14 CF, 35 FXS, and 1 SMA) with 32 pregnant at the time of testing. Of these, 26 opted for prenatal diagnosis revealing 7 pregnancies affected (4 CF, 2 FXS, 1 SMA).ConclusionThe combined affected pregnancy rate is comparable to the population risk for Down syndrome, emphasizing the need to routinely offer carrier screening. The availability of appropriate genetic counseling support and a collaborative approach between laboratory teams, genetics services, health professionals offering screening, and support organizations is essential.

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