Also called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and Preimplantion Genetic Testing (PGT), this is a procedure used before an embryo is implanted back in the mother, to identify defects and other issues, to make sure a healthy embryo is placed in the uterus during the in vitro fertilization process.
Why Is This Necessary?
First and foremost, this screening can identify if an embryo is at risk for certain diseases. In this way, diseases can be prevented from passing from parent to child. Before the PGT takes place, both father and mother are screened to see if they carry any genetically-passed diseases.
How Is This Procedure Performed?
Once fertilization occurs in the lab, a normal step of IVF, then the embryo begins to divide. Then…
1. One or two cells are taken from the embryo.
2. We get DNA from the cell, and copy it.
3. The DNA sequence is evaluated for inheritable problems.
Once the testing is done, an embryo free from genetic issues will be chosen to implant into the mother.
This is testing can be very important for people at risk for passing on certain diseases to their children. Chromosomal disorders, sex-linked genetic disorders and older age can all indicate that PGD may be an important step.
Chromosomal problems can lead to birth defects and miscarriage. Sex-linked disorders include hemophilia and neuromuscular dystrophy. Cystic fibrosis, Huntington disease and sickle cell anemia are other problems that PGD addresses.
Some couples at risk of passing on genetic disease are understandably scared to have children. Screening embryos before implantation can be an excellent option for these couples.
When embryos are being screened, gender can be identified with great accuracy. Some parents may wish to select the gender of their child.
Are There Potential Issues?
Just because an embryo is screened and found to be genetically defective doesn’t mean that disorder will necessarily occur. Likewise, picking a screened embryo doesn’t completely eliminate risks. Those seeking this treatment as part of in vitro fertilization should discuss probabilities with Dr. Fisch.
Potential candidates should also be open about their beliefs concerning embryos and the discarding of embryos.