Carrier testing for Ashkenazi Jewish disorders in the prenatal setting: navigating the genetic maze

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Sep;211(3):197-204. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2014.02.001. Epub 2014 Feb 5.


Exciting developments in the fields of genetics and genomics have facilitated the identification of the etiological basis of many Mendelian disorders. Several of the methods used in gene discovery have focused initially on homogeneous populations, including the Ashkenazi Jewish population. The founder effect is well recognized in this community, in which historical events and cultural behaviors have resulted in a limited number of mutations underlying genetic disorders with substantial health impact. New technologies have made it possible to rapidly expand the test panels, changing testing paradigms, and thereby creating challenges for the physician in deciphering the appropriate approach to genetic screening in this population. The goal of this review is to help primary obstetric health care providers navigate through this quickly moving field so as to better counsel and support their patients of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.

Keywords: Ashkenazi Jewish; genetic screening; genomic medicine; preconception care; prenatal testing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Genetic Carrier Screening / methods*
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / diagnosis*
  • Genetic Testing / ethics
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Jews / genetics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / ethics
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*