Carrier screening uses genetic testing to identify carrier couples and individuals at risk for passing genetic disorders on to their children.
These genetic disorders can include physical disabilities, cognitive impairment, and other severe health problems.
Generally, everyone inherits two copies of each gene: one from their mother and one from their father. A carrier is an individual who has one mutated copy and one normal copy of the same gene. Carriers typically do not have signs or symptoms of a genetic disorder.
Traditionally, carrier screening has targeted couples of certain ethnic groups with a high risk of carrying specific genetic disorders. This approach presented difficulties for patients who are multiracial, adopted, or unsure of their ethnic backgrounds. To address this concern, expanded carrier screening (ECS) was developed to look for mutations that cause a wide variety of genetic disorders regardless of a patient’s ethnicity.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) have published guidelines on expanded carrier screening and its importance in reproductive care.

Beacon Carrier Screening scans genes for mutations that cause autosomal recessive and X-linked recessive disorders.
An autosomal recessive disorder (AR) occurs when a child inherits two mutated copies of a gene – one from each carrier parent. If both partners are carriers of the same AR disorder, there is a 1 in 4 (25%) chance their baby will be affected with that disorder.
X-linked recessive (XLR) conditions occur due to a mutated gene located on the X chromosome. Because males only have one X chromosome, a male will be affected if he inherits a mutated gene from his mother. Because females have two X chromosomes, carrier mothers and daughters usually do not display symptoms. For XLR conditions, only the mother has to be a carrier for her children to be at
risk. If she is a carrier, there is a 1 in 2 (50%) chance her son will be affected.

Genetic disease accounts for ~20% of infant mortality and ~18% of pediatric hospitalizations in the United States. Many children born with a genetic disorder have parents who are carriers of the disorder. Research has shown that most people are a carrier for at least one genetic disorder; however, many are not aware of their carrier status until after the birth of a child with the disease.
To assist couples in discovering their carrier status, screening should be offered before or during pregnancy to women of reproductive age and their reproductive partners, as well as to gamete (egg or sperm) donors. Carrier screening will assist in preconception planning and prenatal diagnostic testing for couples identified as carriers.
If both partners are found to be carriers for the same recessive disorder, then prenatal testing such as chorionic villi sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis could determine if the baby is affected with the recessive disorder. Additionally, in vitro fertilization (IVF) with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) may be considered to reduce the risk of having an affected child.

Beacon Carrier Screening:

  • Analyzes more than 300 genes, in which mutations may cause over 330 different recessive disorders.
  • Provides full coverage of each gene via CNVexonTM, a specialized method to detect different types of mutations by using one technology, providing highly accurate results while remaining cost effective.
  • Can be customized: Fulgent Genetics understands that not every couple has the same needs, and each patient’s circumstances will differ. We have designed five different carrier screening panels to accommodate such needs. As the ordering physician, you can add or remove any genes within the full set or create the most suitable panel for your patients with a Beacon Custom panel.

Beacon ACOG/ACMG panel screens for the most common genetic disorders seen within the general population. Carrier screening for these disorders has been recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG).

Beacon Focus panel is the pan-ethnic carrier screening panel used to identify carriers of 30 autosomal recessive and X-linked disorders with high carrier frequencies within the general population and within a few specific populations.

Beacon Expanded panel screens for more than 300 conditions not specific to any one population, although some diseases are more common for specific ethnic groups. These conditions vary in morbidity, mortality, and treatment.

Beacon Expanded + Opt-In panel is the largest carrier screening panel available. All genes from the Beacon Expanded Carrier Screening panel are included, with the addition of 9 “opt-in” genes that are associated with mild or adult-onset presentation of disease, but may be of interest to specific families or clinics.

Carrier screening enables couples to become aware of their reproductive options, prenatal testing options, and the opportunity to prepare for a child with a genetic disorder. It is important to discuss these options with your doctor or clinical genetic counselor to determine which is most appropriate for you and your family.

Beacon Carrier Screening performs the deepest search possible for pathogenic carrier mutations by combining different genetic technologies and applying cutting-edge bioinformatics to detect these mutations in over 300 genes.

Next Generation Sequencing and Deletion/Duplication Analysis

Beacon is the only carrier screening that offers sequencing and deletion/duplication analysis for over 300 genes. Sequencing reads the DNA code of a gene or several genes, one base at a time, to determine an individual’s sequence. The sequence is then compared to a reference DNA sample to detect any variants found within the patient’s DNA. Next generation sequencing (NGS) is used to analyze exons in multiple genes simultaneously. Fulgent Genetics has developed a sophisticated method, CNVexonTM, that detects sequence changes and deletions/duplications (del/dups) via NGS. The ability to detect sequence variants and del/dups through CNVexonTM allows Beacon to offer the best coverage through a cost-effective and highly accurate technology.

PCR amplification is used to detect the CGG repeat expansion of the FMR1 gene. When the CGG repeat expands to a specific number, it can cause fragile X syndrome. We can also detect AGG interruptions, which may decrease the risk of the CGG repeat expansion when inherited from the mother.

Testing Limitations
All laboratory tests have limitations. A positive result does not imply that there are no other mutations in the patient’s genome, and negative results do not eliminate the risk for the patient’s children to be affected with a genetic disorder. Beacon Carrier Screening is not designed to detect somatic mutations. Mutations that are not located in the exons of genes may not be detected by this test.

Detection Rates
A broad range of laboratory and bioinformatic tools are employed to ensure the highest detection rate of any carrier screening panels on the market. Beacon’s analytical detection rate for all genes is >98%. The clinical detection rate varies by disease (see Supplemental Table online). Residual risk is the chance that the patient being screened is a carrier even after a negative screening test result. Fulgent uses an in-house algorithm to calculate residual risk for carrier couples.

Fulgent accepts blood and saliva samples for Beacon Carrier Screening panels.


  • Two 4-mL EDTA (lavender top) or ACD (yellow top) tubes, or one of each
  • This is our preferred specimen type for testing. Blood specimens can be sent at ambient temperature if express delivery is arranged such that arrival is within 72 hours of collection. Otherwise, samples will need to be refrigerated.

Saliva / Buccal Swab

  • DNA Genotek OC-100 kits are preferred and can be provided upon request.
  • Saliva / buccal swab specimens can be sent at ambient temperature if express delivery is arranged such that arrival is within 72-96 hours of collection.
  • For del/dup analysis, blood samples are preferred as buccal swabs may fail to generate high quality data.

Once the sample is received at the lab, results will be available in approximately two weeks.

Only variants classified as “Pathogenic” or “Likely Pathogenic” using the ACMG standards and guidelines for the interpretation of sequence variants will be reported.

Once the carrier screening test is completed, Fulgent Genetics offers genetic counseling to patients who have questions about their results. Our genetic counselors are also available to answer questions healthcare providers may have about testing.

MMC accepts all commercial and private healthcare insurance plans. Our insurance specialists can verify insurance coverage either before or after a sample is received in the laboratory. Prior to testing, we will contact your patient if there is an anticipated out-of-pocket cost that exceeds $100. We also offer self-pay and institutional billing options, financial assistance, and no-interest payment plans to those who qualify. Please contact us for additional information about our billing options.