Genetic and metabolic investigations for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders: a survey of Canadian geneticists’ practices


Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are genetically heterogeneous. There are many possible etiological investigations for NDDs, and a lack of clear and current guidelines for such testing. Here we characterize the practices of genetic and metabolic physicians in Canada as it pertains to etiological investigation of patients with NDDs, by means of an online questionnaire. The survey response rate was 30% (n = 46). The most commonly ordered first-line tests for patients with non-syndromic NDDs are chromosomal microarray (98%) and Fragile X testing (85%). The most commonly ordered second-line test for non-syndromic NDDs is a multi-gene panel (78%) or exome sequencing (29%). Biochemical screening is ordered as a first line test by 33% of respondents, second line by 31%, and rarely or never by 36% of respondents. Those respondents with metabolics fellowship training were more likely to order biochemical screening than those without. The number of years of clinical experience generally did not affect the types of tests ordered. For patients with NDDs, test-ordering practice among Canadian clinical geneticists is highly variable, in particular with respect to biochemical screening and use of next-generation sequencing technologies. Evidence-based guidelines should be developed to facilitate best practices in Canada.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Richard Webster

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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