Genetic testing or screening of embryos is quite a controversial topic. Women opt to get this screening process done (especially older women & those who have had multiple miscarriages), in order to reduce the chances of implantation failure.
Things to Consider
The process of genetic screening of embryos allows doctors to select the ones that are chromosomally normal. If you are deciding whether genetic testing is right for you- here are some things you should be taking into consideration:
• Differences Between PGS & PGD- Not all types of embryo genetic testing is considered equal. The 2 different types of testing are Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) & Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD):
PGS- This is the most commonly-used testing method; it screens only for chromosomal abnormalities. Generally a baby has 23-pairs of chromosomes – and this is called euploidy. In case this is not the number present, that chromosomally abnormal embryo is said to be aneuploid and will not be transferred. This testing doesn’t identify any specific disease indicators
PGD- This screening looks for specific genetic conditions, including cystic fibrosis, thalassemia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This is used when the parents are known to be carriers for that particular genetic disease.
PGS & PGD have been in existence since the 1990’s. However, there has been a considerable evolution in the techniques and processes. These procedures are quite new, but as our understanding about them improves, the success rates improve too. In most cases, genetic screening today is done using cells from 5 day-old embryos. Your IVF doctor can also discuss the different procedures & what effect the timing has on testing results & implantation.
Some More Facts
Around 50% to 70% of the tested embryos are found to be chromosomally abnormal. This high number just reinforces the fact that human reproduction is very inefficient !
Genetic testing does not harm the embryo. As long as you go to a credible and well-established IVF clinic, your embryos will not come to any harm when they are being tested. To date, there haven’t been any increase in the rates of pregnancy complications/genetic abnormalities in the embryos that have been tested before implantation
As stated at the start, genetic testing of embryos is a hotly-debated topic. If you happen to mention to people you know that you are planning to get your embryos screened, be ready for a certain amount of backlash. But just because you choose to get your embryos screened does not mean you are a eugenicist. You are just a concerned parent who is making every effort to have a healthy pregnancy & baby.
The Choice is Yours
Its also important to understand that PGD doesn’t replace conventional prenatal testing. The Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis results are no more than diagnostic indicators. Your doctor will still monitor your pregnancy as per the current standard-of-care at his clinic follows. And so, if you do opt for any type of genetic screening, keep all these aspects in mind and know that regardless of how judgmental people get, you have to do what you think is right for you.
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