Analysis of cell free fetal (cff) DNA in maternal plasma is used routinely for non invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) of fetal sex determination, fetal rhesus D status and some single gene disorders. True positive results rely on detection of the fetal target being analysed. No amplification of the target may be interpreted either as a true negative result or a false negative result due to the absence or very low levels of cffDNA. The hypermethylated RASSF1A promoter has been reported as a universal fetal marker to confirm the presence of cffDNA. Using methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes hypomethylated maternal sequences are digested leaving hypermethylated fetal sequences detectable. Complete digestion of maternal sequences is required to eliminate false positive results.
cfDNA was extracted from maternal plasma (n = 90) and digested with methylation-sensitive and insensitive restriction enzymes. Analysis of RASSF1A, SRY and DYS14 was performed by real-time PCR.
Hypermethylated RASSF1A was amplified for 79 samples (88%) indicating the presence of cffDNA. SRY real time PCR results and fetal sex at delivery were 100% accurate. Eleven samples (12%) had no detectable hypermethylated RASSF1A and 10 of these (91%) had gestational ages less than 7 weeks 2 days. Six of these samples were male at delivery, five had inconclusive results for SRY analysis and one sample had no amplifiable SRY.
Use of this assay for the detection of hypermethylated RASSF1A as a universal fetal marker has the potential to improve the diagnostic reliability of NIPD for fetal sex determination and single gene disorders.
In previous years, identification of fetal cells in maternal blood circulation has caused a new revolution in non-invasive method of prenatal diagnosis. Low number of fetal cells in maternal blood and long-term survival after pregnancy limited the use of fetal cells in diagnostic and clinical applications. With the discovery of cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in plasma of pregnant women, access to genetic material of the fetus had become possible to determine early gender of a fetus in pregnancies at the risk of X-linked genetic conditions instead of applying invasive methods. Therefore in this study, the probability of detecting sequences on the Y chromosome in pregnant women has been evaluated to identify the gender of fetuses. Peripheral blood samples were obtained from 80 pregnant women at 6th to 10th weeks of gestation and then the fetal DNA was extracted from the plasma. Nested PCR was applied to detect the sequences of single copy SRY gene and multi copy DYS14 & DAZ genes on the Y chromosome of the male fetuses. At the end, all the obtained results were compared with the actual gender of the newborns. In 40 out of 42 born baby boys, the relevant gene sequences were identified and 95.2% sensitivity was obtained. Non-invasive early determination of fetal gender using cffDNA could be employed as a pre-test in the shortest possible time and with a high reliability to avoid applying invasive methods in cases where a fetus is at the risk of genetic diseases.
Fetus; Genetic material; Prenatal diagnosis; Sex determination
Current invasive procedures [amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS)] pose a risk to mother and fetus and such diagnostic procedures are available only to high risk pregnancies limiting aneuploidy detection rate. This review seeks to highlight the necessity of investing in non invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) and how NIPD would improve patient safety and detection rate as well as allowing detection earlier in pregnancy.
Non invasive prenatal diagnosis can take either a proteomics approach or nucleic acid-based approach; this review focuses on the latter. Since the discovery of cell free fetal DNA (cffDNA) and fetal RNA in maternal plasma, procedures have been developed for detection for monogenic traits and for some have become well established (e.g., RHD blood group status). However, NIPD of aneuploidies remains technically challenging. This review examines currently published literature evaluating techniques and approaches that have been suggested and developed for aneuploidy detection, highlighting their advantages and limitations and areas for further research.
Aneuploidy; Cell free fetal DNA (cff DNA); Non invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD)
Reliable detection of large deletions from cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in maternal plasma is challenging, especially when both parents have the same deletion owing to a lack of specific markers for fetal genotyping. In order to evaluate the efficacy of a non-invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) test to exclude α-thalassemia major that uses SNPs linked to the normal paternal α-globin allele, we established a novel protocol to reliably detect paternal SNPs within the (−−SEA) breakpoints and performed evaluation of the diagnostic potential of the protocol in a total of 67 pregnancies, in whom plasma samples were collected prior to invasive obstetrics procedures in southern China. A group of nine SNPs identified within the deletion breakpoints were scanned to select the informative SNPs in each of the 67 couples DNA by multiplex PCR based mini-sequencing technique. The paternally inherited SNP allele from cffDNA was detected by allele specific real-time PCR. A protocol for reliable detection of paternal SNPs within the (−−SEA) breakpoints was established and evaluation of the diagnostic potential of the protocol was performed in a total of 67 pregnancies. In 97% of the couples one or more different SNPs within the deletion breakpoint occurred between paternal and maternal alleles. Homozygosity for the (−−SEA) deletion was accurately excluded in 33 out of 67 (49.3%, 95% CI, 25.4–78.6%) pregnancies through the implementation of the protocol. Protocol was completely concordant with the traditional reference methods, except for two cases that exhibited uncertain results due to sample hemolysis. This method could be used as a routine NIPD test to exclude gross fetal deletions in α-thalassemia major, and could further be employed to test for other diseases due to gene deletion.
The aim of this study was to determine whether the increased serum cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) level of gravidas developed into early-onset preeclampsia (EOPE) subsequently in the early second trimesters is related to prenatal screening markers. Serum was collected from 1011 gravidas. The level of cffDNA and prenatal screening markers were analyzed in 20 cases with EOPE and 20 controls. All fetuses were male. The maternal serum cffDNA level was assessed by amplification of the Y chromosome specific gene. Correlations between the variables were examined. (Logged) cffDNA in EOPE (median, 3.08; interquartile range, 2.93–3.68) was higher than controls (median, 1.79; interquartile range, 1.46–2.53). The increased level of (logged) cffDNA was correlated significantly with the increased human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) level (r = 0.628, p < 0.001). Significant reciprocal correlations between cffDNA and babies’ birth weight as well as gestation weeks at delivery were noted (r = −0.516, p = 0.001; r = −0.623, p < 0.001, respectively). The sensitivity and specificity of cffDNA to discriminate between the EOPE cases and the controls were 90% and 85%, respectively. CffDNA is a potential marker for EOPE, which had a significant reciprocal correlation with babies’ birth weight and gestation weeks at delivery. Moreover, it may help in indicating the underlying hypoxic condition in the placenta.
preeclampsia; cell-free fetal DNA; HCG
Circulating cell-free fetal deoxyribonucleic acids (cffDNA) are promising biomarkers with various promising clinical applications. Second and third trimester amniotic fluid (AF) is a rich source of cffDNA. Further improvements to the original protocol for the extraction of cffDNA from AF supernatant resulted in statistically significant higher yields of high quality cffDNA, allowing for a substantial majority of samples to be analyzed with subsequent molecular methods (e.g. comparative genomic hybridization [CGH] micro arrays) to further assess for genetic abnormalities. Several advantages have been realized with the optimized protocol. In addition to an improved yield from a greater proportion of samples as compared to the original protocol, the current method, using large silico-membranes, allows for the extraction of cffDNA from up to ten samples in less than three hours. The replacement of the original lysis buffer eliminates the need for a heating bath during the lysis step, and fewer overall steps are involved in the protocol (e.g. to reduce potential contamination).
The improvements in the yield with the current protocol make it possible to augment current standard of care through the analysis of this previously unappreciated source of genetic material, and furthermore, will allow for exploration of widely unknown genetic, pathophysiological and kinetic issues of cell-free fetal DNA in amniotic fluid.
Prenatal diagnosis; cell-free fetal DNA; prental screening; pregnancy
The translation of novel genomic technologies from bench to bedside enjoins the comprehensive consideration of the perspectives of all stakeholders who stand to influence, or be influenced by, the translational course. Non-invasive prenatal aneuploidy testing that utilizes cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) circulating in maternal blood is one example of an innovative technology that promises significant benefits for its intended end users; however, it is currently uncertain whether it will achieve widespread clinical implementation. We conducted qualitative interviews with 18 diverse stakeholders in this domain, including prospective users of the technology and healthcare personnel, researchers and developers, and experts in social, legal, and regulatory aspects of genetic technology, and a pilot survey of 62 obstetric healthcare providers. Analysis of interview and survey data was combined with a review of the proceedings of a full-day, multidisciplinary conference on the topic and published scientific and ethics literature surrounding this and other relevant technologies.
We constructed potential pathways for technological implementation, identified broad stakeholder classes party to these translational processes, and performed a preliminary assessment of the viewpoints and interrelations among these diverse stakeholders. Some of the stakeholders whose priorities are critical to understand and integrate into translation include pregnant women and their families; healthcare providers; scientists, their institutions or companies, and the funding agencies that support them; regulatory and judicial bodies; third-party payers; professional societies; educational systems; disability rights communities; and other representatives from civil society. Stakeholder interviews, survey findings, and conference proceedings add complexity to these envisioned pathways and also demonstrate a paramount need to incorporate an iterative stakeholder analysis early and throughout the translational endeavor. We believe that the translational framework that we have developed will help guide crucial future stakeholder mapping and engagement activities for cffDNA aneuploidy testing and inform novel methods of technology assessment for other developments in the growing field of genomic medicine.
Mapping potential pathways for implementation and exploring the attitudes and interrelations of diverse stakeholders may lead to more effective translation of a novel method of prenatal aneuploidy testing.
Cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in maternal plasma results from degradation of fetal and/or placental cells. Our objective was to determine if chorionic villus sampling (CVS) causes increased release of fetal and/or maternal DNA.
Fifty-two pregnant women were recruited prior to CVS, performed for clinical indications, at 10 5/7 to 13 2/7 weeks. Maternal blood was collected before and within 15 minutes after CVS. cffDNA was extracted from plasma. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and the Y chromosome sequence DYS1 were used as measures of total and fetal DNA, respectively. All samples were analyzed in triplicate without knowledge of fetal gender.
Sensitivity of DYS1 detection in male fetuses was 100% (n=30); specificity in female fetuses was 100% (n=22). While a majority of women had >50% post-procedure increases in both fetal and total DNA, some showed post-procedure decreases. However, overall median proportional increases were not statistically significant. Gestational age (GA), placental location, and individual CVS operator did not correlate with changes in DNA levels.
While there were no statistically significant overall changes in DNA levels after CVS, as-yet undiscovered variables may influence the extent of post-procedure release of cell-free DNA in the circulation of pregnant women.
CVS; cell-free DNA; prenatal diagnosis
The applications of massively parallel sequencing technology to fetal cell-free DNA (cff-DNA) have brought new insight to non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. However, most previous research based on maternal plasma sequencing has been restricted to fetal aneuploidies. To detect specific parentally inherited mutations, invasive approaches to obtain fetal DNA are the current standard in the clinic because of the experimental complexity and resource consumption of previously reported non-invasive approaches.
Here, we present a simple and effective non-invasive method for accurate fetal genome recovery-assisted with parental haplotypes. The parental haplotype were firstly inferred using a combination strategy of trio and unrelated individuals. Assisted with the parental haplotype, we then employed a hidden Markov model to non-invasively recover the fetal genome through maternal plasma sequencing.
Using a sequence depth of approximately 44X against a an approximate 5.69% cff-DNA concentration, we non-invasively inferred fetal genotype and haplotype under different situations of parental heterozygosity. Our data show that 98.57%, 95.37%, and 98.45% of paternal autosome alleles, maternal autosome alleles, and maternal chromosome X in the fetal haplotypes, respectively, were recovered accurately. Additionally, we obtained efficient coverage or strong linkage of 96.65% of reported Mendelian-disorder genes and 98.90% of complex disease-associated markers.
Our method provides a useful strategy for non-invasive whole fetal genome recovery.
Research into cell-free fetal (cff) nucleic acids has primarily focused on maternal plasma; however, cff DNA and RNA are also detectable in other body fluids such as amniotic fluid (AF). In AF, cff DNA is present in much greater concentrations than in maternal plasma and represents a pure fetal sample uncontaminated by maternal- and trophoblast-derived nucleic acids. The aim of this review was to summarize the current knowledge on cff nucleic acids in AF and to outline future research directions.
MEDLINE and PREMEDLINE were searched up to August 2010 for original investigations of cell-free RNA or DNA in AF. Sixteen studies were included in the review.
AF cff DNA represents a physiologically separate pool from cff DNA in maternal plasma. The placenta is not a major source of nucleic acids in AF. It is feasible to isolate cff nucleic acids from small volumes of discarded AF supernatant in sufficient quality and quantity to perform microarray studies and downstream applications such as pathway analysis. This ‘discovery-driven approach’ has resulted in new information on the pathogenesis of Down syndrome and polyhydramnios. There is otherwise a paucity of information relating to the basic biology and clinical applications of cff nucleic acids in AF.
AF supernatant is a valuable and widely available but under-utilized biological resource. Further studies of cff nucleic acids in AF may lead to new insights into human fetal development and ultimately new approaches to antenatal treatment of human disease.
amniotic fluid; cell-free fetal nucleic acids; prenatal diagnosis; gene expression
During human pregnancy there is a continuous transport of numerous syncytiotrophoblastic cells from the intervillous space of the placenta into the maternal lung. There these cells undergo apoptosis and the fetal nuclear DNA is liberated within the pulmonary capillaries to become cffDNA in the maternal serum. We have examined the sections of lungs of 11 pregnant women (from 8 weeks to term gestation) who had come to the Medical Examiner's Offices after their traumatic demise. We then identified the deported, embolized trophoblastic cells in pulmonary capillaries and attempted to show them to contain hCG immunohistochemically but were unable to do this. We also determined their apoptotic profiles by TUNEL reaction.
cell-free DNA; apoptosis; syncytial embolism to lung
The discovery of cell free fetal DNA (cff-DNA) in maternal plasma has brought new insight for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis. Combining with the rapidly developed massively parallel sequencing technology, noninvasive prenatal detection of chromosome aneuploidy and single base variation has been successfully validated. However, few studies discussed the possibility of noninvasive pathogenic CNVs detection.
A novel algorithm for noninvasive prenatal detection of fetal pathogenic CNVs was firstly tested in 5 pairs of parents with heterozygote α-thalassemia of Southeast Asian (SEA) deletion using target region capture sequencing for maternal plasma. Capture probes were designed for α-globin (HBA) and β-globin (HBB) gene, as well as 4,525 SNPs selected from 22 automatic chromosomes. Mixed adaptors with 384 different barcodes were employed to construct maternal plasma DNA library for massively parallel sequencing. The signal of fetal CNVs was calculated using the relative copy ratio (RCR) of maternal plasma combined with the analysis of R-score and L-score by comparing with normal control. With mean of 101.93× maternal plasma sequencing depth for the target region, the RCR value combined with further R-score and L-score analysis showed a possible homozygous deletion in the HBA gene region for one fetus, heterozygous deletion for two fetus and normal for the other two fetus, which was consistent with that of invasive prenatal diagnosis.
Our study showed the feasibility to detect pathogenic CNVs using target region capture sequencing, which might greatly extend the scope of noninvasive prenatal diagnosis.
The presence of circulatory cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma has found new applications in non-invasive risk-free prenatal diagnosis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
We made use of a size separation approach along with real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to evaluate the use of fetal DNA in the detection of the sex of the fetus. Cell-free fetal DNA was isolated from the plasma of 30 women (10–20 weeks gestation) using a size separation approach. We made use of Taq Man Chemistry and real time PCR using primers and probes for GAPDH and SRY.
Only 24 cases could be studied as there was no amplification in six cases. Fetal sex was accurately determined in all of the 24 cases wherein 19 women were carrying male fetuses and five women were carrying female fetuses. An increase in the amount of fetal DNA was observed with an increase in the gestational age.
Real time PCR analysis is a highly sensitive and accurate tool for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis, allowing detection of the sex of the fetus as early as 10 weeks of gestation. Non-invasive prenatal diagnosis eliminates the risk of fetal loss associated with the invasive procedure.
Circulatory cell-free DNA; maternal blood; non-invasive prenatal diagnosis; real time PCR; Y chromosome
To provide a preliminary assessment of obstetric healthcare provider opinions surrounding implementation of cell-free fetal DNA testing.
A 37-question pilot survey was used to address questions around the translation and use of non-invasive prenatal testing using cell-free fetal DNA. The survey was distributed and collected at a Continuing Medical Education course on obstetrics and gynecology.
Of 62 survey respondents, 73% are female and 87% hold MD/DO degrees. Respondents generally agree that patients want prenatal diagnostic information to help make decisions about a pregnancy and that cell-free fetal DNA testing will encourage the testing of more patients for more conditions. However, there is an overall lack of knowledge or conviction about using this technology. Genetic counseling and professional society approval are deemed important to implementation whereas the possibility of direct-to-consumer testing and government regulation produce mixed responses. Respondents indicate that they are more likely to offer cell-free fetal DNA testing for chromosomal abnormalities and single-gene disorders, but are cautious with respect to determination of sex and behavioral or late-onset conditions.
Preliminary assessment indicates uncertainty among obstetric providers about the details of implementing cell-free fetal DNA testing and suggests expanded research on perspectives of this stakeholder group.
Psychosocial; legal, and ethical implications; cell-free fetal DNA; cell-free fetal RNA; non-invasive prenatal diagnosis; healthcare provider perspectives; clinical translation
Cell-free fetal DNA is a source of fetal genetic material that can be used for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. Usually constituting less than 10% of the total cell free DNA in maternal plasma, the majority is maternal in origin. Optimizing conditions for maximizing yield of cell-free fetal DNA will be crucial for effective implementation of testing. We explore factors influencing yield of fetal DNA from maternal blood samples, including assessment of collection tubes containing cell-stabilizing agents, storage temperature, interval to sample processing and DNA extraction method used.
Microfluidic digital PCR was performed to precisely quantify male (fetal) DNA, total DNA and long DNA fragments (indicative of maternal cellular DNA). Real-time qPCR was used to assay for the presence of male SRY signal in samples.
Total cell-free DNA quantity increased significantly with time in samples stored in K3EDTA tubes, but only minimally in cell stabilizing tubes. This increase was solely due to the presence of additional long fragment DNA, with no change in quantity of fetal or short DNA, resulting in a significant decrease in proportion of cell-free fetal DNA over time. Storage at 4°C did not prevent these changes.
When samples can be processed within eight hours of blood draw, K3EDTA tubes can be used. Prolonged transfer times in K3EDTA tubes should be avoided as the proportion of fetal DNA present decreases significantly; in these situations the use of cell stabilising tubes is preferable. The DNA extraction kit used may influence success rate of diagnostic tests.
The presence of fetal DNA in the plasma of pregnant women has opened up new possibilities for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis. Over the past decades, different types of fetal markers have been developed, initially based on discriminative genetic markers such as male-specific signals or paternally-inherited polymorphisms, and gradually evolved to the detection of fetal-specific transcripts or epigenetic signatures. This development has extended the coverage of the application of cell-free fetal DNA to essentially all pregnancies, regardless of the gender of the fetus or its polymorphic status. In this review, we present an overview of the development of noninvasive prenatal diagnosis through epigenetics. We introduce the basis of how fetal DNA could be detected from a large background of maternal DNA in maternal plasma based on fetal-specific DNA methylation patterns. We evaluate the methodologies involved and discuss the factors that affect the robustness of the detection. We review the progress in adopting fetal epigenetic markers for noninvasive prenatal assessment of fetal chromosomal aneuploidies and pregnancy-associated disorders. We conclude with comments on the future directions regarding the search for new fetal epigenetic markers and the clinical implementation of epigenetic approaches for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis.
DNA methylation; epigenetics; fetal DNA; plasma DNA; noninvasive prenatal diagnosis; fetal chromosomal aneuploidies
To review published methods for transcervical collection of fetal cells and to assess the potential of this approach for application in prenatal diagnosis.
Retrospective analysis of efforts at prenatal diagnosis using trophoblast cells shed into the lower uterine pole that accumulate within the cervical mucus at the level of the internal os.
Minimally invasive techniques that include cervical mucus aspiration, cervical swabbing, and cervical or intrauterine lavage can be used to retrieve trophoblast cells during the first trimester for diagnostic purposes, including prenatal genetic analysis. Fetal cells have been identified in these specimens with success rates that vary from 40 to 90%. The disparity in reported success rates can be a function of gestational age, collection method, operator variability, detection sensitivity, or pregnancy status. Molecular approaches have been devised to determine fetal sex and identify aneuploidies. Antibody markers have proven useful to select trophoblast cells for genetic analysis and to demonstrate that the abundance of recoverable fetal cells diminishes in abnormal gestations, such as ectopic pregnancy and blighted ovum.
Transcervical collection of fetal cells offers several avenues for prenatal diagnosis that with further refinement could one day provide valuable information for the management of ongoing pregnancies.
Prenatal diagnosis; fetal cells; transcervical cell collection; cervical mucus; intrauterine lavage; trophoblast; genetic analysis; immunological markers; ectopic pregnancy
Alarm over the prospect that prenatal diagnostic techniques, which permit identification of fetal sex and facilitate abortion of healthy but unwanted female fetuses has led some to urge their outright prohibition. This article argues against that response. Prenatal diagnosis permits timely action to preserve and enhance the life and health of fetuses otherwise endangered, and, by offering assurance of fetal normality, may often encourage continuation of pregnancies otherwise vulnerable to termination. Further, conditions in some societies may sometimes render excusable the inclination to abort certain healthy female fetuses. In places where abortion for fetal sex alone is recognised as unethical, however, medical licensing authorities already possess the power to discipline, for professional misconduct, physicians who prescribe or perform prenatal diagnosis purely to identify fetal sex, or those who disclose fetal sex when that is unrelated to the fetus's medical condition.
Prenatal diagnosis of fetal aneuploidies and chromosomal anomalies is likely to undergo a profound change in the near future. On the one hand this is mediated by new technical developments, such as chromosomal microarrays, which allow a much more precise delineation of minute sub-microscopic chromosomal aberrancies than the classical G-band karyotype. This will be of particular interest when investigating pregnancies at risk of unexplained development delay, intellectual disability or certain forms of autism. On the other hand, great strides have been made in the non-invasive determination of fetal genetic traits, largely through the analysis of cell-free fetal nucleic acids. It is hoped that, with the assistance of cutting-edge tools such as digital PCR or next generation sequencing, the long elusive goal of non-invasive prenatal diagnosis for fetal aneuploidies can finally be attained.
Circulating fetal cells and cell free DNA in the maternal blood has been shown to help in prenatal diagnosis of genetic disorders without relying on invasive procedures leading to significant risk of pregnancy loss.
The current study was undertaken to detect the male fetal population using Y STR markers DYS 19, DYS 385 and DYS 392 and also to study the extent of persistence of fetal DNA in the mother following delivery.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Blinded study was conducted on 50 mothers delivering male and female babies. Cellular and cell free DNA was extracted from maternal and fetal cord blood and amplified for Y STR markers by PCR.
The amplification sensitivity of Y specific STR, DYS19 was 100% (22/22) in the male fetal DNA samples. The incidence of other STRs, i.e., DYS385 and DYS392 were 91% (20/22) each. Analysis of results revealed that thirteen of the twenty six women had detectable male fetal DNA at the time of delivery. However fetal DNA was not detectable twenty four hours after delivery.
Preliminary results show that the separation of fetal cell-free DNA in the maternal circulation is a good low-cost approach for the future development of novel strategies to provide non-invasive techniques for early prenatal diagnosis.
Y-STR; fetal DNA; prenatal diagnosis; DYS markers; cord blood
Despite the potential of prenatal care for addressing many pregnancy complications and concurrent health problems, non-western women in industrialized western countries more often make inadequate use of prenatal care than women from the majority population do. This study aimed to give a systematic review of factors affecting non-western women’s use of prenatal care (both medical care and prenatal classes) in industrialized western countries.
Eleven databases (PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Cochrane, Sociological Abstracts, Web of Science, Women’s Studies International, MIDIRS, CINAHL, Scopus and the NIVEL catalogue) were searched for relevant peer-reviewed articles from between 1995 and July 2012. Qualitative as well as quantitative studies were included. Quality was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Factors identified were classified as impeding or facilitating, and categorized according to a conceptual framework, an elaborated version of Andersen’s healthcare utilization model.
Sixteen articles provided relevant factors that were all categorized. A number of factors (migration, culture, position in host country, social network, expertise of the care provider and personal treatment and communication) were found to include both facilitating and impeding factors for non-western women’s utilization of prenatal care. The category demographic, genetic and pregnancy characteristics and the category accessibility of care only included impeding factors.
Lack of knowledge of the western healthcare system and poor language proficiency were the most frequently reported impeding factors. Provision of information and care in women’s native languages was the most frequently reported facilitating factor.
The factors found in this review provide specific indications for identifying non-western women who are at risk of not using prenatal care adequately and for developing interventions and appropriate policy aimed at improving their prenatal care utilization.
The etiology of autism is unknown, although prenatal exposures have been the focus of epidemiologic research for over 40 years.
To provide the first quantitative review and meta-analysis of the association between maternal pregnancy complications and pregnancy-related factors and risk of autism.
PubMed, Embase, and PsycInfo databases were searched for epidemiologic studies that examined the association between pregnancy-related factors and autism. Forty studies were eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis. Summary effect estimates were calculated for factors examined in multiple studies.
Over 50 prenatal factors have been examined. The factors associated with autism risk in the meta-analysis were advanced parental age at birth, maternal prenatal medication use, bleeding, gestational diabetes, being first born vs. third or later, and having a mother born abroad. The factors with the strongest evidence against a role in autism risk included previous fetal loss and maternal hypertension, proteinuria, preeclampsia, and swelling.
There is insufficient evidence to implicate any one prenatal factor in autism aetiology, although there is some evidence to suggest that exposure to pregnancy complications may increase the risk.
Minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE) reduces quality of life, increases the risk of road traffic incidents and predicts progression to overt hepatic encephalopathy and death. Current psychometry-based diagnostic methods are effective, but time-consuming and a universal ‘gold standard’ test has yet to be agreed upon. Critical Flicker Frequency (CFF) is a proposed language-independent diagnostic tool for MHE, but its accuracy has yet to be confirmed.
To assess the diagnostic accuracy of CFF for MHE by performing a systematic review and meta-analysis of all studies, which report on the diagnostic accuracy of this test.
A systematic literature search was performed to locate all publications reporting on the diagnostic accuracy of CFF for MHE. Data were extracted from 2 × 2 tables or calculated from reported accuracy data. Collated data were meta-analysed for sensitivity, specificity, diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) and summary receiver operator curve (sROC) analysis. Prespecified subgroup analysis and meta-regression were also performed.
Nine studies with data for 622 patients were included. Summary sensitivity was 61% (95% CI: 55–67), specificity 79% (95% CI: 75–83) and DOR 10.9 (95% CI: 4.2–28.3). A symmetrical sROC gave an area under the receiver operator curve of 0.84 (SE = 0.06). The heterogeneity of the DOR was 74%.
Critical Flicker Frequency has a high specificity and moderate sensitivity for diagnosing minimal hepatic encephalopathy. Given the advantages of language independence and being both simple to perform and interpret, we suggest the use of critical flicker frequency as an adjunct (but not replacement) to psychometric testing.
Fetal DNA in maternal urine, if present, would be a valuable source of fetal genetic material for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis. However, the existence of fetal DNA in maternal urine has remained controversial. The issue is due to the lack of appropriate technology to robustly detect the potentially highly degraded fetal DNA in maternal urine.
We have used massively parallel paired-end sequencing to investigate cell-free DNA molecules in maternal urine. Catheterized urine samples were collected from seven pregnant women during the third trimester of pregnancies. We detected fetal DNA by identifying sequenced reads that contained fetal-specific alleles of the single nucleotide polymorphisms. The sizes of individual urinary DNA fragments were deduced from the alignment positions of the paired reads. We measured the fractional fetal DNA concentration as well as the size distributions of fetal and maternal DNA in maternal urine.
Cell-free fetal DNA was detected in five of the seven maternal urine samples, with the fractional fetal DNA concentrations ranged from 1.92% to 4.73%. Fetal DNA became undetectable in maternal urine after delivery. The total urinary cell-free DNA molecules were less intact when compared with plasma DNA. Urinary fetal DNA fragments were very short, and the most dominant fetal sequences were between 29 bp and 45 bp in length.
With the use of massively parallel sequencing, we have confirmed the existence of transrenal fetal DNA in maternal urine, and have shown that urinary fetal DNA was heavily degraded.
Objectives To summarise evidence on the associations of maternal anaemia and prenatal iron use with maternal haematological and adverse pregnancy outcomes; and to evaluate potential exposure-response relations of dose of iron, duration of use, and haemoglobin concentration in prenatal period with pregnancy outcomes.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis
Data sources Searches of PubMed and Embase for studies published up to May 2012 and references of review articles.
Study selection criteria Randomised trials of prenatal iron use and prospective cohort studies of prenatal anaemia; cross sectional and case-control studies were excluded.
Results 48 randomised trials (17 793 women) and 44 cohort studies (1 851 682 women) were included. Iron use increased maternal mean haemoglobin concentration by 4.59 (95% confidence interval 3.72 to 5.46) g/L compared with controls and significantly reduced the risk of anaemia (relative risk 0.50, 0.42 to 0.59), iron deficiency (0.59, 0.46 to 0.79), iron deficiency anaemia (0.40, 0.26 to 0.60), and low birth weight (0.81, 0.71 to 0.93). The effect of iron on preterm birth was not significant (relative risk 0.84, 0.68 to 1.03). Analysis of cohort studies showed a significantly higher risk of low birth weight (adjusted odds ratio 1.29, 1.09 to 1.53) and preterm birth (1.21, 1.13 to 1.30) with anaemia in the first or second trimester. Exposure-response analysis indicated that for every 10 mg increase in iron dose/day, up to 66 mg/day, the relative risk of maternal anaemia was 0.88 (0.84 to 0.92) (P for linear trend<0.001). Birth weight increased by 15.1 (6.0 to 24.2) g (P for linear trend=0.005) and risk of low birth weight decreased by 3% (relative risk 0.97, 0.95 to 0.98) for every 10 mg increase in dose/day (P for linear trend<0.001). Duration of use was not significantly associated with the outcomes after adjustment for dose. Furthermore, for each 1 g/L increase in mean haemoglobin, birth weight increased by 14.0 (6.8 to 21.8) g (P for linear trend=0.002); however, mean haemoglobin was not associated with the risk of low birth weight and preterm birth. No evidence of a significant effect on duration of gestation, small for gestational age births, and birth length was noted.
Conclusions Daily prenatal use of iron substantially improved birth weight in a linear dose-response fashion, probably leading to a reduction in risk of low birth weight. An improvement in prenatal mean haemoglobin concentration linearly increased birth weight.