Genome-wide sequencing in acutely ill infants: genomic medicine's critical application?

Paediatric Task Team of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health Regulatory and Ethics Work Stream

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Diagnostic genome-wide sequencing (exome or genome sequencing and data analysis for high-penetrance disease-causing variants) in acutely ill infants appears to be clinically useful, but the value of this diagnostic test should be rigorously demonstrated before it is accepted as a standard of care. This white paper was developed by the Paediatric Task Team of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health's Regulatory and Ethics Work Stream to address the question of how we can determine the clinical value of genome-wide sequencing in infants in an intensive care setting. After reviewing available clinical and ethics literature on this question, we conclude that evaluating diagnostic genome-wide sequencing as a comprehensive scan for major genetic disease (rather than as a large panel of single-gene tests) provides a practical approach to assessing its clinical value in acutely ill infants. Comparing the clinical value of diagnostic genome-wide sequencing to chromosomal microarray analysis, the current evidence-based standard of care, per case of serious genetic disease diagnosed provides a practical means of assessing clinical value. Scientifically rigorous studies of this kind are needed to determine if clinical genome-wide sequencing should be established as a standard of care supported by healthcare systems and insurers for diagnosis of genetic disease in seriously ill newborn infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-504
Number of pages7
JournalGenetics in medicine
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Exome sequencing
  • Health policy
  • Neonatal intensive care unit
  • genome sequencing

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