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How PGD works

Sioban SenGupta, UCL

Dr. Sioban SenGupta, Senior Lecturer at UCL, provides an overview of PGD.

PGD is a technology which allows genetic testing of an embryo prior to implantation and before pregnancy occurs. It is used in conjunction with IVF and allows only those embryos diagnosed as being free of a specific genetic disorder to be transferred into a woman for pregnancy.

Who might benefit from PGD?

Some couples are at risk of transmitting an inherited disease to their children – such as Cystic Fibrosis, Thalassaemia and Fanconi Anaemia.

Until PGD, if couples wished to avoid having a child with a life threatening or severely debilitating disorder, their options were not to become pregnant, or to become pregnant and undergo pre-natal diagnosis via either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) at between 11 – 16 weeks of pregnancy.

If the fetus was affected then the couple had the difficult decision of whether or not to continue with the pregnancy. PGD is performed before implantation making it the earliest form of prenatal diagnosis before the couple embark on a pregnancy.

More controversially, there is now also carrier screening available, meaning that a woman carrying a risk gene (such as the cancer-causing BRCA mutation) could undergo PGD and have a successful pregnancy.

For your discussion: Take no more than 5 minutes and have a look online to see what kinds of offers fertility clinics have with regards to PGD. How many different abnormalities is currently screened for?

This article is from the free online

Making Babies in the 21st Century

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