Who ever heard of 16p11.2 deletion syndrome? Parents’ perspectives on a susceptibility copy number variation syndrome


Chromosomal microarray analysis is an important diagnostic tool to identify copy number variations (CNV). Some of the CNVs affect susceptibility regions, which means that deletions or duplications in these regions have partial penetrance and often give an increased risk for a spectrum of neurocognitive disorders. Not much is known about the impact of rare CNV susceptibility syndromes on the life of patients or their parents. In this study, we focus on one specific susceptibility CNV disorder, 16p11.2 deletion syndrome. This rare condition is characterised by an increased risk of mild intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy, and obesity. We aimed to explore the impact of such a disorder on the family members involved in the daily care of children with this syndrome. Three focus group discussions were held with 23 Dutch (grand)parents. Thematic analysis was performed by two independent researchers. The following five themes emerged: (1) the end of a diagnostic odyssey and response to the diagnosis, (2) after the diagnosis—life with a child with 16p11.2 deletion syndrome, (3) access to medical care and support services, (4) nobody knows what 16p11.2 deletion syndrome is, and (5) future perspective—ideal care. The participants experienced a lack of knowledge among involved professionals. Together with the large variability of the syndrome, this led to fragmented care and unfulfilled needs regarding healthcare, social, and/or educational assistance. Care for children with a CNV susceptibility syndrome could be improved by a multidisciplinary approach or central healthcare professional, providing education and information for all involved professionals.

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We would like to thank all the participants of the focus group interviews. We thank Saskia Kleinendorst for the transcriptions and Mellody Cooiman for her help during the focus group sessions.

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Correspondence to Lotte Kleinendorst.

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Kleinendorst, L., van den Heuvel, L.M., Henneman, L. et al. Who ever heard of 16p11.2 deletion syndrome? Parents’ perspectives on a susceptibility copy number variation syndrome. Eur J Hum Genet 28, 1196–1204 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41431-020-0644-6

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