Guidelines for buccal smear collection in breast-fed infants

Dusica Babovic-Vuksanovic, Virginia V. Michels, Mark E. Law, Richard Bailey, William A. Wyatt, Noralane M. Lindor, Syed M. Jalal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Buccal smear analysis is a noninvasive, fast, and relatively inexpensive diagnostic method. It is used commonly where rapid gender identification is necessary or, more recently, for detection of aneusomy, microdeletion syndromes, and a variety of polymerase chain reaction-based molecular genetic tests. Previously we have shown that maternal cells can contaminate buccal smears taken from breast-fed infants, resulting in difficulty with test interpretation. The aim of this study was to determine optimal timing and technique for buccal smear collection in breast-fed infants in order to avoid diagnostic errors. We analyzed prospectively 50 breast-fed male infants for presence of cells with XX signal pattern from buccal mucosa scrapings at different times after breast feeding. The efficiency of mucosal cleaning on elimination of maternal cells was evaluated by comparing the proportion of XX cells before and after wiping of buccal mucosa with a cotton swab. Maternal cells were present in 23 of 48 (47.9%) samples collected within 5 min of feeding. The proportion of XX signal pattern was significantly (P 0.001) reduced in samples collected at 30 min (8/48, P = 0.001) and ≥60 min (2/29, P = 0.0002) after feeding. Mucosal cleaning prior to smear collection significantly decreased the number of XX positive samples from 23 of 48 to 10 of 48 (P = 0.002). Buccal smears should not be obtained in nursing neonates until at least 60 min after breast feeding. In addition, prior to sample collection, buccal mucosa should be cleaned thoroughly with a cotton swab applicator. The same guidelines are applicable to older nursing infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-360
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of medical genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 4 1999


  • Breast feeding
  • Buccal smear
  • DNA analysis
  • FISH
  • Infant
  • Maternal cells
  • PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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