Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a means of determining if the embryo resulting from an IVF has any genetic defects. This is a newly available technology and can be used to reduce the number of children born with birth defects.
Advantages of PGD
PGD is an advantageous procedure and can be performed on embryos that result from in vitro fertilization, especially if the parents have a history of genetic disease and are likely to be carriers of certain genes that may result in babies with various diseases. However, the PGD procedure can be chosen by any couple undergoing IVF, just to make sure the child will be healthy.
PGD can detect if any of the following genetic diseases are present:
- Tay Sachs disease
- X-linked dystrophy
- Cystic fibrosis
- Down syndrome
These diseases don't have a cure presently, and if the embryo is detected as having any defective genes, parents have the option to start a new IVF cycle and obtain a healthy embryo.
In fetuses obtained naturally, the testing for genetic abnormalities can be performed only after the age of 10 weeks. If the results show a genetic abnormality, the couple can decide to terminate or keep the baby.
With IVF, the testing is done as soon as the embryo is obtained, so it's easier to decide on what to do next. Typically, fertility doctors will advise against using the embryo that is found to have a genetic defect.