The Israeli national population program of genetic carrier screening for reproductive purposes

Genet Med. 2016 Feb;18(2):203-6. doi: 10.1038/gim.2015.55. Epub 2015 Apr 16.


Purpose: The Israeli population genetic screening program for reproductive purposes, launched in January 2013, includes all known, nationally frequent severe diseases (carrier frequency 1:60 and/or disease frequency 1 in 15,000 live births). The carrier screening program is free of charge and offers testing for cystic fibrosis, fragile X syndrome, and spinal muscular atrophy for nearly the entire population, according to disease frequency among the different groups within the population. We report the results of the first year of the program.

Methods: Data on the tests performed over a 12-month period were collected from laboratories nationwide.

Results: More than 62,000 individuals were examined. The carrier frequency was within the expected range for most of the diseases. The few exceptions included lower carrier rates for cystic fibrosis among Muslim Arabs (1:236) and Druze (1:1,021) and Niemann-Pick type A among Muslim Arabs in a delineated region of Israel (1:229).

Conclusion: The national population genetic carrier screening is aimed toward providing couples with knowledge of the existing options for the prevention of serious genetic conditions when it is relevant for them. It is still too early to determine whether this aim has been achieved.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Genetic Carrier Screening*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / diagnosis*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / ethnology
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • National Health Programs*