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Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome: what is the actual risk for couples carriers of the DHCR7:c.964-1G>C variant?

The founder variant DHCR7:c.964-1G>C causing autosomal recessive Smith-Lemli-Opitz (SLOS) was introduced into the Israeli preconception carrier program for Ashkenazi Jews in 2017 because of the high carrier frequency in this population (2.3%). Other disease-causing variants in DHCR7 are relatively rare in Israeli population. Discrepancy between the carrier frequency and disease prevalence raises the question of the actual risks for affected offspring for couples detected by the screening program. We performed a literature review of all relevant publications regarding homozygous DHCR7:c.964-1G>C fetuses/patients. We also collected clinical data about couples identified in the national screening program, including reproductive history. Out of 32 homozygous fetuses, six died in utero, 11 pregnancies were terminated during second trimester, and 15 children were born. All died between first days of life till 3 months of age. Reproductive history of SLOS-at-risk couples showed that after correction for ascertainment bias, out of 61 pregnancies, there was an absence of affected fetuses/children and an excess of miscarriages even if assumed that all the homozygous fetuses were miscarried. Out of these, eight families were Israelis, they had a total of one sick child, 21 healthy children, and 21 miscarriages. Our observations support the previous knowledge that homozygosity for c.964-1G>C in DHCR7 leads to a severe phenotype or early miscarriage. An unexpected observation was the excess of early miscarriages. This phenomenon is unclear and awaits further studies.

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