June 18, 2007
No Risk From Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) does not boost the risk from in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Nice, France: Children born after embryo biopsy for preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) do not show any more major malformations than those born after artificial reproduction technologies (ART) without PGD, a scientist will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics today. Professor Ingeborg Liebaers, from the Research Centre for Reproductive Genetics, Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium, will say that the results of her study of 583 children born after PGD was reassuring.

PGD is a new option for couples at risk of transmitting genetic diseases. Instead of carrying out a prenatal diagnosis followed by a termination of pregnancy, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (where a sperm is injected directly into an egg) is performed, followed by genetic testing of the embryos. Only unaffected embryos are subsequently transferred to the womb.

“Because embryos are biopsied in PGD procedures, and this constitutes an additional manipulation of a delicate organism, we set out to study whether this had any effect on the health of children who were born as a result of this procedure”, says Professor Liebaers. The scientists first collected data on the pregnancies by giving questionnaires to patients on the day of the embryo transfer. Additional questionnaires were sent during pregnancy, at delivery, and later on to the patients, their gynaecologists, and paediatricians. Children were examined at 2 months and 2 years old.

A low risk from PGD will make IVF much more attractive once genetic testing becomes cheap. Genetic researchers will discover the effects of hundreds of thousands of mutations and they will make these discoveries at an increasingly rapid rate as a result of falling costs for genetic testing. Those discoveries will allow prospective parents to compare the genetic profiles of multiple IVF embryos to select the one that delivers the most preferred combination of genes.

If other studies verify the low risk of PGD found in this study then once genetic testing becomes cheap that low risk will help make embryo selection with PGD the preferred way to start pregnancies. That, in turn, will cause a huge speed-up in the rate of human evolution.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 June 18 10:43 PM  Biotech Reproduction

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