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Abstract Individuals with severe, undiagnosed developmental disorders (DDs) are enriched for damaging de novo mutations (DNMs) in developmentally important genes. We exome sequenced 4,293 families with individuals with DDs, and meta-analysed these data with published data on 3,287 individuals with similar disorders. We show that the most significant factors influencing the diagnostic yield of de novo mutations are the sex of the affected individual, the relatedness of their parents and the age of both father and mother. We identified 94 genes enriched for damaging de novo mutation at genome-wide significance (P < 7 × 10 −7 ), including 14 genes for which compelling data for causation was previously lacking. We have characterised the phenotypic diversity among these genetic disorders. We demonstrate that, at current cost differentials, exome sequencing has much greater power than genome sequencing for novel gene discovery in genetically heterogeneous disorders. We estimate that 42% of our cohort carry pathogenic DNMs (single nucleotide variants and indels) in coding sequences, with approximately half operating by a loss-of-function mechanism, and the remainder resulting in altered-function (e.g. activating, dominant negative). We established that most haplo insufficient developmental disorders have already been identified, but that many altered-function disorders remain to be discovered. Extrapolating from the DDD cohort to the general population, we estimate that developmental disorders caused by DNMs have an average birth prevalence of 1 in 213 to 1 in 448 (0.22-0.47% of live births), depending on parental age. Abbreviations <jats:def-list><jats:def-item> PTV Protein-Truncating Variant <jats:def-item> DNM De Novo Mutation <jats:def-item> DD Developmental Disorder <jats:def-item> DDD Deciphering Developmental Disorders study

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