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Fifteen-minute consultation: Efficient investigation of the child with early developmental impairment in the era of genomic sequencing
  1. Thomas Coysh1,
  2. Sarah Louise Hogg2,
  3. Alasdair PJ Parker3
  1. 1 Neurology Department, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Biochemical Genetics Unit, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK
  3. 3 Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alasdair PJ Parker, Paediatric Neuroscience, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, CB1 1EL, UK; apjparker{at}


The investigation of children with early developmental impairment (EDI) is challenging in terms of selecting investigations and supporting families through the diagnostic pathway. Modern genomic sequencing has the potential to greatly improve yield of investigation, but produces challenges in terms of timing and explaining its strengths/weaknesses to families. We present an evidence-based and practical guideline to help the paediatrician through all stages of investigation. We emphasise the importance of a really good history and examination, allowing targeted investigation for specific disorders and outline an approach for isolated EDI when this is not possible. This prioritises genetic investigation- after appropriate counselling to families, and balances the very low yield of biochemical/radiological investigations in isolated EDI, with the need to detect extremely rare, but potentially treatable disorders. Collaboration with both families and regional specialists to ensure appropriate testing is likely to reduce parental and clinician anxiety.

  • investigation

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  • Contributors AP guided the overall production, SLH produced the biochemical sections and TC pulled together and wrote the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Collaborators We acknowledge the expert assistance of the Public Health Genetics Foundation and those listed in reference 2

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.