Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE: With growing evidence that rare single gene disorders present in the neonatal period, there is a need for rapid, systematic, and comprehensive genomic diagnoses in ICUs to assist acute and long-term clinical decisions. This study aimed to identify genetic conditions in neonatal (NICU) and paediatric (PICU) intensive care populations. METHODS: We performed trio whole genome sequence (WGS) analysis on a prospective cohort of families recruited in NICU and PICU at a single site in the UK. We developed a research pipeline in collaboration with the National Health Service to deliver validated pertinent pathogenic findings within 2-3 weeks of recruitment. RESULTS: A total of 195 families had whole genome analysis performed (567 samples) and 21% received a molecular diagnosis for the underlying genetic condition in the child. The phenotypic description of the child was a poor predictor of the gene identified in 90% of cases, arguing for gene agnostic testing in NICU/PICU. The diagnosis affected clinical management in more than 65% of cases (83% in neonates) including modification of treatments and care pathways and/or informing palliative care decisions. A 2-3 week turnaround was sufficient to impact most clinical decision-making. CONCLUSIONS: The use of WGS in intensively ill children is acceptable and trio analysis facilitates diagnoses. A gene agnostic approach was effective in identifying an underlying genetic condition, with phenotypes and symptomatology being primarily used for data interpretation rather than gene selection. WGS analysis has the potential to be a first-line diagnostic tool for a subset of intensively ill children.

Original publication




Journal article


Intensive Care Med

Publication Date





627 - 636


Critically ill children, Genetics, Genomics, NICU, PICU, Whole genome sequencing, Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Critical Illness, England, Female, Genetic Background, Genetic Diseases, Inborn, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Intensive Care Units, Neonatal, Intensive Care Units, Pediatric, Male, Prospective Studies, State Medicine, Whole Genome Sequencing, Young Adult