Calls for routine genetic screening of IVF embryos

4 July 2005

At the Sixth International Symposium on Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis held in London last week, society president Dr Yury Verlinksy called for all embryos created by IVF to be checked for genetic abnormalities prior to implantation in the womb. Dr Verlinksy, of the Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago, presented results on the outcomes of pregnancies in 709 women who had IVF, reporting that the use of PGD increased the chance of a live birth from 11% to about 80%, due to fewer miscarriages and better foetal implantation rates. He commented that "40-70% of all embryos are somewhat abnormal and this is human nature" , and therefore proposed that all IVF embryos should be checked in order to maximise the success rate of the procedure, saying that the additional expense of PGD could be justified by the reduced need for further cycles of IVF.

He also said that couples undergoing IVF should be allowed to select the sex of the embryo to be implanted, and was supported in this assertion by IVF pioneer Professor Robert Edwards, who commented: "We need politicians to realise how far PGD has come, and it has to be paid for by the health service". However, critics condemned these proposals as unethical; a spokesman from pro-life charity LIFE said: "Just because something is scientifically possible it does not mean we should do it

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