• chromosome translocations;
  • breakpoints;
  • segregation;
  • reproductive risks;
  • malformed offspring;
  • recurrent abortion;
  • hypogonadism


Here we report on studies of the reproductive risks for heterozygous carriers of chromosome translocations. Pregnancy outcome, breakpoints, mode of segregation of the translocated chromosomes, and resulting chromosome imbalance were analyzed in 58 families (46 with reciprocal and 12 with Robertsonian translocations) ascertained for birth of a malformed child, recurrent spontaneous abortion, or hypogonadism. These families include a total of 122 informative sibships. The analysis of the data, after correction for ascertainment bias, showed that the incidence of spontaneous abortion is nearly 50% in reciprocal and between 20 and 25% in Robertsonian translocation families ascertained for malformed child or recurrent abortion. The risk of malformed infants with unbalanced genome is approximately 6% among the liveborn offspring of reciprocal translocation carriers and 23% among the liveborn offspring of carrier mothers of t(14q21q). The distribution of the breakpoints on the chromosomes involved in reciprocal translocations ascertained through a malformed child is nonrandom, with an excess on chromosomes 5, 9, 13, and 15. The study of chromosome imbalance, expressed as gain or loss of a portion of genetic information relative to the total haploid autosome length (percent HAL), shows that among the common types of disjunction-segregation leading to unbalanced gametes, adjacent 1 seems to be the one producing on the average the least level of genome imbalance. This explains why it is the most frequently observed type of segregation giving rise to gametes from which subjects with a chromosome imbalance compatible with life can be generated.