Fetal blood cells can be recovered from the maternal circulation by charge flow separation (CFS), a method that obviates the risks associated with amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. By CFS, we processed blood samples from 13 women carrying male fetuses, 2 carrying fetuses with trisomy 21, and 1 who had delivered a stillborn infant with trisomy 18. On average more than 2000 fetal nucleated red blood cells were recovered per 20-ml sample of maternal blood. Recovery of fetal cells was confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization with probes for chromosomes Y, 18 and 21. After culturing of CFS-processed cells, amplification by the polymerase chain reaction revealed Y-chromosomal DNA in clones from four of six women bearing male fetuses, but not in clones from three women bearing female fetuses.
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