In Vitro Fertilization and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

The In Vitro fertilization process can sometimes be combined with preimplatation genetic testing. Preimplantation genetic testing is a test whereby an embryo’s DNA is checked for abnormalities. In such a situation, a preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can be used to determine whether a particular embryo has any genetic abnormalities that could prevent it from developing normally or cause a child to be handicapped. If problems are found, the parents of the embryo can choose whether or not to use that embryo in their fertility procedures. Below is a discussion of In Vitro fertilization and PGD.

In Vitro Fertilization Explained

In Vitro fertilization is the process by which an egg is removed from a donor and combined with sperm to create an embryo. The embryo is then reinserted into the recipient’s uterus. Recently, embryos have been inserted into the recipient’s fallopian tubes to increase the chances of pregnancy; this method has been successful. In Vitro fertilization is used when the egg and sperm are viable, but for some reason unable to produce an embryo on their own.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is the procedure where an embryo is checked for genetic abnormalities. This procedure is performed after an embryo is formed because that is when the DNA chain is complete. Sperm or egg by themselves only contain half the amount of human DNA. When this half is combined with another half, the full chain of DNA is developed. At this point, whether the DNA has any problems can be determined. When separated, a sperm or egg's DNA will not reveal any abnormalities.

This testing is performed to determine whether there are any problems in the embryo that could result in a pregnancy not occurring or in a child being born with a handicap. However, PGD can also detail the baby’s gender and, potentially, other aspects about a future child the embryo could produce.

Objections to PGD  

PGD has been criticized for allowing parents or couples to select the characteristics of their child. At the very least, critics argue that PGD will permit parents to choose their child’s gender. PGD, though, is also viewed as a means to select children without disabilities. It is, in a way, a means of genetic cleansing. Critics argue that PGD is a way to avoid having handicapped or other “undesirable” children.

The Combination of the Two Processes

There is no difficulty in combining In Vitro fertilization with PGD. In fact, many specialists may insist on combining the two in an attempt to make it more likely that the In Vitro fertilization procedure will be successful. Determining that the embryo does not have a genetic abnormality can reduce that cause of a pregnancy failing.

This is not to say that having a good PGD will ensure a pregnancy through In Vitro fertilization. Because there can be many reasons why In Vitro fertilization will fail, PGD is not the ultimate test for a successful fertility procedure. Therefore, even if required by a fertility specialist, there is no guarantee that the In Vitro procedure will be successful.

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