Utility of Genetic Testing in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

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To study the utility of genetic evaluation and testing in patients with suspected fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Study design

We performed a retrospective chart review of all patients (n = 36) referred for evaluation for suspected FASD to the genetics clinic at Boston Children's Hospital between January 2006 and January 2013. Records of all patients were reviewed to obtain the medical history, family history, examination findings, and investigations, including genetic testing.


Of the 36 patients, definite prenatal exposure was documented in 69%. Eight patients did not fulfill clinical criteria for FASD. Chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA) detected 19 copy number variants (CNVs) in 14 patients. Among patients who fulfilled criteria for FASD and underwent CMA, pathogenic CNVs were detected in 3 patients (2q37del, 22q11.22dup, and 4q31.21del syndromes), giving a yield of 14.3%. All 3 patients had overlapping features between FASD and the genetic syndrome.


Genetic testing, especially CMA, should be considered in patients referred for evaluation of FASD, as a significant proportion have a clinically significant CNV even when they fulfill diagnostic criteria for FASD spectrum.

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