A Transparent Approach to Calculate Detection Rate and Residual Risk for Carrier Screening

J Mol Diagn. 2021 Jan;23(1):91-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2020.10.009.


Carrier screening involves detection of carrier status for genes associated with recessive conditions. A negative carrier screening test result bears a nonzero residual risk (RR) for the individual to have an affected child. The RR depends on the prevalence of specific conditions and the detection rate (DR) of the test itself. Herein, we provide a detailed approach for calculating DR and RR. DR was calculated on the basis of the sum of disease allele frequencies (DAFs) of pathogenic variants found in published literature. As a proof of concept, DAF data for cystic fibrosis were compared with society guidelines. The DAF data calculated by this method were consistent with the published cystic fibrosis guideline. In addition, we compared DAF for four genes (ABCC8, ASPA, GAA, and MMUT) across three laboratories, and outlined the likely reasons for discrepancies between these laboratories. The utility of carrier screening is to support couples with information while making reproductive choices. Accurate development of DR and RR is therefore critical. The method described herein provides an unbiased and transparent process to collect, calculate, and report these data.