Karyotype versus microarray testing for genetic abnormalities after stillbirth

Uma M. Reddy, Grier P. Page, George R. Saade, Robert M. Silver, Vanessa R. Thorsten, Corette B. Parker, Halit Pinar, Marian Willinger, Barbara J. Stoll, Josefine Heim-Hall, Michael W. Varner, Robert L. Goldenberg, Radek Bukowski, Ronald J. Wapner, Carolyn D. Drews-Botsch, Barbara M. O'Brien, Donald J. Dudley, Brynn Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:Genetic abnormalities have been associated with 6 to 13% of stillbirths, but the true prevalence may be higher. Unlike karyotype analysis, microarray analysis does not require live cells, and it detects small deletions and duplications called copy-number variants. METHODS: The Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network conducted a population-based study of stillbirth in five geographic catchment areas. Standardized postmortem examinations and karyotype analyses were performed. A single-nucleotide polymorphism array was used to detect copy-number variants of at least 500 kb in placental or fetal tissue. Variants that were not identified in any of three databases of apparently unaffected persons were then classified into three groups: probably benign, clinical significance unknown, or pathogenic. We compared the results of karyotype and microarray analyses of samples obtained after delivery. RESULTS:In our analysis of samples from 532 stillbirths, microarray analysis yielded results more often than did karyotype analysis (87.4% vs. 70.5%, P<0.001) and provided better detection of genetic abnormalities (aneuploidy or pathogenic copy-number variants, 8.3% vs. 5.8%; P = 0.007). Microarray analysis also identified more genetic abnormalities among 443 antepartum stillbirths (8.8% vs. 6.5%, P = 0.02) and 67 stillbirths with congenital anomalies (29.9% vs. 19.4%, P = 0.008). As compared with karyotype analysis, microarray analysis provided a relative increase in the diagnosis of genetic abnormalities of 41.9% in all stillbirths, 34.5% in antepartum stillbirths, and 53.8% in stillbirths with anomalies. CONCLUSIONS:Microarray analysis is more likely than karyotype analysis to provide a genetic diagnosis, primarily because of its success with nonviable tissue, and is especially valuable in analyses of stillbirths with congenital anomalies or in cases in which karyotype results cannot be obtained. (Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2185-2193
Number of pages9
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 6 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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