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Am J Hum Genet. 1986 Jul;39(1):68-78.

The relationship between maternal age and chromosome size in autosomal trisomy.


The pattern of maternal age-specific incidence of autosomal trisomy in spontaneous abortions was examined for each chromosome for which a sufficient number of trisomies was observed. This included chromosomes 2, 4, 7-10, 13-16, 18, and 20-22. The rate of increase after age 30 for each of the small chromosomes (groups D-G) was similar, with the exception of chromosome 16, which showed a significantly shallower rate. The C group chromosomes tended to have an intermediate rate of increase after age 30, with the exception of chromosome 7, which had a pattern similar to the smaller chromosomes. The larger chromosomes (2 and 4) had the smallest rate of increase. There was a significant relationship between chromosome size and rate of increase after age 30 (after excluding chromosome 16), but not with rate of increase before age 30. The results suggest that autosomal trisomies may be of heterogeneous origin, with a maternal age-related factor associated with chromosome size and other sources unrelated to chromosome size. Additional evidence for and against this hypothesis is discussed.

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