Genetic Counseling and Testing for FMR1 Gene Mutations: Practice Guidelines of the National Society of Genetic Counselors

An Erratum to this article was published on 21 September 2012

Abstract

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is one of several clinical disorders associated with mutations in the X-linked Fragile X Mental Retardation-1 (FMR1) gene. With evolving knowledge about the phenotypic consequences of FMR1 transcription and translation, sharp clinical distinctions between pre- and full mutations have become more fluid. The complexity of the issues surrounding genetic testing and management of FMR1-associated disorders has increased; and several aspects of genetic counseling for FMR1 mutations remain challenging, including risk assessment for intermediate alleles and the widely variable clinical prognosis for females with full mutations. FMR1 mutation testing is increasingly being offered to women without known risk factors, and newborn screening for FXS is underway in research-based pilot studies. Each diagnosis of an FMR1 mutation has far-reaching clinical and reproductive implications for the extended family. The interest in large-scale population screening is likely to increase due to patient demand and awareness, and as targeted pharmaceutical treatments for FXS become available over the next decade. Given these developments and the likelihood of more widespread screening, genetic counselors across a variety of healthcare settings will increasingly be called upon to address complex diagnostic, psychosocial, and management issues related to FMR1 gene mutations. The following guidelines are intended to assist genetic counselors in providing accurate risk assessment and appropriate educational and supportive counseling for individuals with positive test results and families affected by FMR1-associated disorders.

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Correspondence to Brenda Finucane.

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The practice guidelines of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) are developed by members of the NSGC to assist genetic counselors and other health care providers in making decisions about appropriate management of genetic concerns; including access to and/or delivery of services. Each practice guideline focuses on a clinical or practice-based issue, and is the result of a review and analysis of current professional literature believed to be reliable. As such, information and recommendations within the NSGC practice guidelines reflect the current scientific and clinical knowledge at the time of publication, are only current as of their publication date, and are subject to change without notice as advances emerge. In addition, variations in practice, which take into account the needs of the individual patient and the resources and limitations unique to the institution or type of practice, may warrant approaches, treatments and/or procedures that differ from the recommendations outlined in this guideline. Therefore, these recommendations should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of management, nor does the use of such recommendations guarantee a particular outcome. Genetic counseling practice guidelines are never intended to displace a health care provider’s best medical judgment based on the clinical circumstances of a particular patient or patient population. Practice guidelines are published by NSGC for educational and informational purposes only, and NSGC does not “approve” or “endorse” any specific methods, practices, or sources of information.

© 2011 National Society of Genetic Counselors. All rights reserved. This document may not, in whole or in part, be reproduced, copied or disseminated, entered into or stored in a computer database or retrieval system, or otherwise utilized without the prior written consent of the NSGC.

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Finucane, B., Abrams, L., Cronister, A. et al. Genetic Counseling and Testing for FMR1 Gene Mutations: Practice Guidelines of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. J Genet Counsel 21, 752–760 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10897-012-9524-8

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Keywords

  • Fragile X
  • FMR1
  • FXTAS
  • FXPOI
  • Genetic counseling