Today, along with buying diapers, bottles, onesies and the perfect bib, moms and dads-to-be are adding a number of sophisticated genetic tests to their “New Baby Preparation” to-do list. Genetic testing can allow future parents to learn about the health of their new baby before its formal introduction to the world. Genetic carrier screening and preimplantation diagnosis in particular have brought enormous change to how families experience pregnancy.
Many individuals and couples who are starting or adding to a family pursue comprehensive genetic carrier screening. This test, performed on a small blood or saliva sample, can inform couples about their risk of passing a genetic disorder to their child. Based on these results, family history, or other personal factors, couples may be identified as having an increased risk to have a child with a genetic disorder. These couples have the option of pursuing preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to greatly reduce the chance of having a pregnancy affected by that genetic disease.
PGD is the process of screening an embryo, the earliest stage of a developing baby, for a genetic disorder. To perform PGD, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is required. IVF creates embryos by joining together sperm and egg in the lab. Embryos are screened for presence of the genetic disorder of concern by PGD, and embryos that are not found to have the genetic disorder are placed in the woman’s uterus. If an embryo implants, leading to pregnancy, the baby is much less likely to have the genetic disease in question.
Both genetic carrier screening and PGD fill significant roles in the field of reproductive medicine. They provide answers and opportunities for families at risk for having a child with a serious genetic disease. These technologies are just a few of the many options available to help couples bring a new healthy baby into their lives.
This post if the first of a series to bring you more information about different preconception, preimplantation, and prenatal genetic tests and assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods. For more information about PGD please visit Reprogenetics.com. Please feel free to visit CooperGenomics.com or call 855-OUR-GENES to learn more about CooperGenomics’s genetic testing products.