OBJECTIVE: Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) is an autosomal recessive syndrome caused by a defect in cholesterol biosynthesis with mutations in 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR7). A total of 3% of Caucasians carry DHCR7 mutations, theoretically resulting in a homozygote frequency of 1/4000. However, SLOS occurs in only 1/20,000 to 60,000 live births. Our objective was to assess DHCR7 mutations in unexplained stillbirths.
STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, multicenter, population-based case-control study of all stillbirths and a representative sample of live births enrolled in five geographic areas. Cases with stillbirth due to obstetric complications, infection, or aneuploidy, and those with poor quality deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) were excluded. DNA was extracted from placental tissue stored at -80°C, and exons 3 to 9 of the DCHR7 gene were amplified, purified, and subjected to bidirectional sequencing to identify mutations.
RESULTS: One-hundred forty four stillbirths were unexplained and had adequate DNA for analysis. Nine stillbirths of 139 (6.5%) had a single mutation in one allele in coding exons 3 to 9 of DHCR7 (Table 1). One case (0.7%) was a compound heterozygote for mutations in exons 3 to 9 of DHCR7; this fetus had no clinical or histologic features of SLOS.
CONCLUSION: We detected SLOS mutations in only 0.7% of stillbirths. This does not support a strong association between unrecognized DHCR7 mutations and stillbirth.