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Original research
Expanded targeted preconception screening panel in Israel: findings and insights


Background We aimed to analyse the efficacy and added value of a targeted Israeli expanded carrier screening panel (IL-ECSP), beyond the first-tier test covered by the Israeli Ministry of Health (IMOH) and the second-tier covered by the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs).

Methods A curated variant-based IL-ECSP, tailored to the uniquely diverse Israeli population, was offered at two tertiary hospitals and a major genetics laboratory. The panel includes 1487 variants in 357 autosomal recessive and X-linked genes.

Results We analysed 10 115 Israeli samples during an 18-month period. Of these, 6036 (59.7%) were tested as couples and 4079 (40.3%) were singles. Carriers were most frequently identified with mutations in the following genes: GJB2/GJB6 (1:22 allele frequency), CFTR (1:28), GBA (1:34), TYR (1:39), PAH (1:50), SMN1 (1:52) and HEXA (1:56). Of 3018 couples tested, 753 (25%) had no findings, in 1464 (48.5%) only one partner was a carrier, and in 733 (24.3%) both were carriers of different diseases. We identified 79 (2.6%) at-risk couples, where both partners are carriers of the same autosomal recessive condition, or the female carries an X-linked disease. Importantly, 48.1% of these would not have been detected by ethnically-based screening tests currently provided by the IMOH and HMOs, for example, variants in GBA, TYR, PAH and GJB2/GJB6.

Conclusion This is the largest cohort of targeted ECSP testing, tailored to the diverse Israeli population. The IL-ECSP expands the identification of couples at risk and empowers their reproductive choices. We recommend endorsing an expanded targeted panel to the National Genetic Carrier Screening programme.

  • Inborn Genetic Diseases
  • Genetic Carrier Screening
  • Genetic Counseling

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data related to study results is available upon reasonable request.

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