Utility of whole-genome sequencing for detection of newborn screening disorders in a population cohort of 1,696 neonates

Genet Med. 2016 Mar;18(3):221-30. doi: 10.1038/gim.2015.111. Epub 2015 Sep 3.


Purpose: To assess the potential of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to replicate and augment results from conventional blood-based newborn screening (NBS).

Methods: Research-generated WGS data from an ancestrally diverse cohort of 1,696 infants and both parents of each infant were analyzed for variants in 163 genes involved in disorders included or under discussion for inclusion in US NBS programs. WGS results were compared with results from state NBS and related follow-up testing.

Results: NBS genes are generally well covered by WGS. There is a median of one (range: 0-6) database-annotated pathogenic variant in the NBS genes per infant. Results of WGS and NBS in detecting 28 state-screened disorders and four hemoglobin traits were concordant for 88.6% of true positives (n = 35) and 98.9% of true negatives (n = 45,757). Of the five infants affected with a state-screened disorder, WGS identified two whereas NBS detected four. WGS yielded fewer false positives than NBS (0.037 vs. 0.17%) but more results of uncertain significance (0.90 vs. 0.013%).

Conclusion: WGS may help rule in and rule out NBS disorders, pinpoint molecular diagnoses, and detect conditions not amenable to current NBS assays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*