The results of the diagnostic application of first trimester trophoblast sampling in 100 pregnancies are reported in detail. Further improvement of the method for routine, direct chromosome analysis resulted in a technique which proved to be fast, simple, and efficient. We found that short-term incubation of villi permits the application of many experimental methods, such as visualization of sister chromatid exchanges and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation. Fetal karyotyping was successful in each of the 96 pregnancies in which fetal material was obtained from a total of 98 fetuses. There were 42 males and 56 females, and an abnormal chromosome constitution was found in 12 cases. Two trisomic fetuses were found among the eight pregnancies at risk for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and this indicates that fetal sexing (which is achieved with our method in two hours) should not be performed without chromosome visualization. The results indicate a risk of 8% of an abnormal fetus for mothers aged 35 years or more, while the risk of failure of sampling and of spontaneous abortion after villi sampling were 4 and 6%, respectively. Enzyme determinations were performed in three pregnancies at risk for gangliosidosis GM1, Niemann-Pick disease, and Hurler syndrome. In this last case inconsistency between the results of the assay of iduronidase on chorionic villi and amniotic fluid cells was found. This unexplained error indicates the need for extensive characterisation in chorionic villi of the series of enzymes involved in metabolic diseases.
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