A technique to detect genetic disorders in embryos before they’re implanted seems to be relatively harmless for babies once they’re born.
The research was presented at the European Human Genetics Conference in Nice, France.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is a new technique that allows specialists to detect whether or not an embryo contains a gene that will lead to a genetic disease. The technique is an option for couples who are at risk of transmitting a genetic disease to an unborn child. If an embryo does contain affected genes, it is not transferred and implanted into the womb. Only unaffected embryos are transferred.
Professor Ingeborg Liebaers from the Research Center for Reproductive Genetics in Brussels, Belgium says, “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.”
Researchers examined children born after the PGD technique was done at ages 2 months and 2 years old. There were 583 children in the study. Researchers report 563 were liveborn, 20 were stillborn and nine babies died neonatally. Dr. Liebaers says, “We were encouraged to find that the major malformation rate was only 3.6 percent, or no higher than that which is found in children born after conventional [in vitro fertilization] and [intracytoplasmic sperm injection].”
The average length of pregnancy for woman after PGD was 38.8 weeks, and birth weight was comparable to babies born after conventional IVF.
Dr. Liebaers concludes, “We will be carrying out further follow-up as these children grow older. But we feel that results to date are reassuring. It is good to know that a procedure that can offer patients hope of having a baby unaffected by serious disease is also safe in the longer-term.”
SOURCE: Presented at the European Human Genetics Conference in Nice, France, June 16-19, 2007