Fragile-X carrier screening and the prevalence of premutation and full-mutation carriers in Israel

Hagit Toledano-Alhadef, Lina Basel-Vanagaite, Nurit Magal, Bella Davidov, Sophie Ehrlich, Valerie Drasinover, Ellen Taub, Gabrielle J. Halpern, Nathan Ginott, Mordechai Shohat

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174 Scopus citations


Fragile-X syndrome is caused by an unstable CGG trinucleotide repeat in the FMR1 gene at Xq27. Intermediate alleles (51-200 repeats) can undergo expansion to the full mutation on transmission from mother to offspring. To evaluate the effectiveness of a fragile-X carrier-screening program, we tested 14, 334 Israeli women of child-bearing age for fragile-X carrier status between 1992 and 2000. These women were either preconceptional or pregnant and had no family history of mental retardation. All those found to be carriers of premutation or full-mutation alleles were offered genetic counseling and also prenatal diagnosis, if applicable. We identified 207 carriers of an allele with >50 repeats, representing a prevalence of 1:69. There were 127 carriers with >54 repeats, representing a prevalence of 1:113. Three asymptomatic women carried the fully mutated allele. Among the premutation and full-mutation carriers, 177 prenatal diagnoses were performed. Expansion occurred in 30 fetuses, 5 of which had an expansion to the full mutation. On the basis of these results, the expected number of avoided patients born to women identified as carriers, the cost of the test in this study (U.S. $100), and the cost of lifetime care for a mentally retarded person (>$350, 000), screening was calculated to be cost-effective. Because of the high prevalence of fragile-X premutation or full-mutation alleles, even in the general population, and because of the cost-effectiveness of the program, we recommend that screening to identify female carriers should be carried out on a wide scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-360
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


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