Recently much attention has been given to the detection of submicroscopic chromosome rearrangements in patients with idiopathic mental retardation. We have screened 27 subjects with mental retardation and dysmorphic features for such rearrangements using a genetic marker panel screening. The screening was a pilot project using markers from the subtelomeric regions of all 41 chromosome arms. The markers were informative for monosomy in both parents at 366/902 loci (40.6%, 95% confidence interval 37.0-44.2%) in the 22 families where DNA was available from both parents. In two of the 27 subjects, submicroscopic chromosomal aberrations were detected. The first patient had a 5-6 Mb deletion of chromosome 18q and the second patient had a 4 Mb deletion of chromosome 1p. The identification of two deletions in 27 cases gave an aberration frequency of 7.5% without adjustment for marker informativeness (95% confidence interval 1-24%) and an estimated frequency of 18% if marker informativeness for monosomy was taken into account. This frequency is higher than previous estimates of the number of subtelomeric chromosome abnormalities in children with idiopathic mental retardation (5-10%) although the confidence interval is overlapping. Our study suggests that in spite of the low informativeness of this pilot screening, submicroscopic chromosome aberrations may be a common cause of dysmorphic features and mental retardation.
- idiopathic mental retardation
- submicroscopic chromosome rearrangement
- chromosome telomeres
- 1p monosomy
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