NPJ Genom Med. 2021 Apr 22;6(1):29. doi: 10.1038/s41525-021-00192-x.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common congenital anomaly and a major cause of infant morbidity and mortality. While morbidity and mortality are highest in infants with underlying genetic conditions, molecular diagnoses are ascertained in only ~20% of cases using widely adopted genetic tests. Furthermore, cost of care for children and adults with CHD has increased dramatically. Rapid whole genome sequencing (rWGS) of newborns in intensive care units with suspected genetic diseases has been associated with increased rate of diagnosis and a net reduction in cost of care. In this study, we explored whether the clinical utility of rWGS extends to critically ill infants with structural CHD through a retrospective review of rWGS study data obtained from inpatient infants < 1 year with structural CHD at a regional children’s hospital. rWGS diagnosed genetic disease in 46% of the enrolled infants. Moreover, genetic disease was identified five times more frequently with rWGS than microarray ± gene panel testing in 21 of these infants (rWGS diagnosed 43% versus 10% with microarray ± gene panels, p = 0.02). Molecular diagnoses ranged from syndromes affecting multiple organ systems to disorders limited to the cardiovascular system. The average daily hospital spending was lower in the time period post blood collection for rWGS compared to prior (p = 0.003) and further decreased after rWGS results (p = 0.000). The cost was not prohibitive to rWGS implementation in the care of this cohort of infants. rWGS provided timely actionable information that impacted care and there was evidence of decreased hospital spending around rWGS implementation.