Molecular fragile X screening in normal populations.

W C Spence
S H Black
L Fallon
A Maddalena
E Cummings
G Menapace-Drew
D P Bick
G Levinson
J D Schulman
P N Howard-Peebles


In December, 1993, we initiated a pilot project in which DNA fragile X (fraX) testing was offered during routine prenatal or genetic counseling to all pregnant women seen at the Genetics & IVF Institute, most of whom were referred for the indication of advanced maternal age. A brochure on fragile X syndrome was sent to each patient prior to her appointment and was reviewed by a counselor or physician during the counseling session. As of June 1995, 3,345 patients were offered testing; 474 women with no identified family history of mental retardation or learning disability and 214 women with a positive family history accepted the test on a self-pay basis. The second population screened was 271 potential donors in our anonymous egg donor program. DNA from blood was tested by Southern blot using EcoRI/EagI and StB12.3. If an expansion was detected, CGG repeat number was determined by PCR-based analysis. Among the 474 patients with unremarkable family histories, three fraX carriers were identified (repeat sizes = 60+), whereas none were found in the 214 patients with a positive family history. Among the potential egg donors, two high borderline patients were identified (repeat sizes = between 50 and 59). Our ongoing study indicates that screening of pregnant or preconceptual populations for fraX carrier status using DNA testing is accepted by many patients and is an important addition to current medical practice.