Monday, November 14, 2005

PGD improves IVF success rate, raises controversy

The online newspaper The Australian carried a story on November 10, 2005 about the successes and controversies of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

The story of a couple who had repeated failures during IVF treatment explains how they learned through PGD that the embryos that were being implanted were defective and would not survive beyond a few days. Only after they elected for PGD did they establish a pregnancy and have a successful birth.

While PGD is normally opted for in cases where there is a family history of genetic disease or other potential factor that may implicate the viability of the embryos, the story also discusses the possibility of the extension of PGD to select desirable characteristics in babies, or the identification of potential genetic latent disease indicators. This is where the controversy begins to arise, as it is seen by some to be open to intrepretation and abuse. And an interesting case mentions a Tasmanian couple who used PGD to select embryos that would produce a baby who could be a bone marrow donor for their first child.

The cost of PGD is substantial, $1,700 Australian according to the article, and not any cheaper in some of the overseas IVF clinics. So it isn't taken lightly by most couples. Still, the potential for designer babies is there and the controversy will probably continue.


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