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Prenatal Genetic Testing and Screening: A Focused Review.

Given the advancements in prenatal testing, child neurologists are becoming involved in earlier stages of patient care, often being consulted during the gestational stage rather than during the postnatal period. Thus, it is essential that pediatric neurologists understand the strengths and limitations of prenatal testing when counseling families. In this review we separate prenatal testing into screening and diagnostic testing. On the one hand, screening testing is noninvasive and does not have an increased risk for miscarriage. Diagnostic tests, on the other hand, are invasive and include chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis. Understanding that screening tests are not diagnostic is imperative, therefore, attention should be placed on the positive and negative predictive values when interpreting results within the clinical context. Given their invasive nature, prenatal diagnostic tests increase the risk for complications such as miscarriage. Diagnostic tests include biochemical marker testing, enzyme testing, karyotype, microarray, whole exome sequencing, and whole genome sequencing. With each test, pretest and post-test counseling is crucial for informed decision making, and the strengths and limitations should be discussed when obtaining consent. Prior to obtaining testing, clinicians must consider unexpected and unrelated findings of testing and must acknowledge that the patient always has the option to decline the test.

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