A triploid fetus, 69, XXX, aborted spontaneously at 26 weeks' gestation. It had multiple abnormalities including syndactyly of the hands and feet single palmar creases, hypoplasia of the adrenals and ovaries, hypertrophy of thigh muscles, and abnormalities of the brain. The placenta was large and showed hydatidiform degeneration. The pregnancy had been complicated by acute dyspnoea, pre-eclampsia, and postpartum haemorrhage. Detailed cytogenetic studies, using banding and fluorescence techniques, were performed on fetus and parents. Meiotic studies were made on the fetal ovaries. Muscle cell differentiation and electrophysiological relationships of cultured skin fibriblasts were examined in an attempt to study the way in which the extra haploid set of chromosomes exerts its effect on the phenotype. The antenatal diagnosis of late triploidy is discussed. The finding that 25 per cent of late triploids have spina bifida is further evidence that meningomyelocele has a genetic component and strongly suggests that this results from chromosomal imbalance or a regulatory gene disturbance.
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