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Hum Genet. 1993 Jan;90(5):483-8.

Prenatal sex determination from maternal peripheral blood using the polymerase chain reaction.

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Nuffield Department of Pathology and Bacteriology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.


We have investigated the use of a nested polymerase chain reaction assay for the detection of a fetal-specific Y-chromosomal sequence (DYS14) from DNA extracted from unsorted maternal peripheral blood. Serial dilutions of male DNA into female cord blood DNA indicated that the assay could detect an equivalent of a single male cell in 300,000 female cells. The assay exhibited absolute specificity for male DNA with no amplification from a DNA panel obtained from 10 female cord blood samples. When used on DNA extracted from unsorted peripheral blood from a series of pregnant women, the predictive values of a positive test for a male fetus were 86%, 67% and 87% in the first, second and third trimesters, respectively. We have also demonstrated that retesting the samples allows the detection of a proportion of male-bearing pregnancies with a high degree of accuracy, in that all 15 women who gave positive signals in two consecutive amplifications had male fetuses. We have also applied the test at 8 weeks postpartum to eight women who had previously delivered male babies; no Y-specific signal could be detected in any of them, suggesting that most women have cleared their circulation of fetal cells by 8 weeks after parturition.

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