Study reveals differing attitudes to PGD among

Ms Mandy Katz told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Lausanne today (Wednesday 4 July) that these attitudes included quite different views on the status of embryos versus a fetus, limitations regarding what disorders should be treated and who should be able to access preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)* technology, the availability of IVF technology for fertile couples and the possibility in the future of being able to select for other favourable genetic traits.

Ms Katz, a PhD student, and her colleagues at the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development in Australia, asked questions of couples who were seeking treatment for PGD for single gene disorders that could be passed on to their children (group A), couples who were seeking treatment for PGD to avoid having children born with chromosomal abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome (group B), and infertile couples who were presenting for their first cycle of IVF for general infertility problems and who were not having PGD (control group).

The study found that less than 5% of the couples from groups A and B disagreed with the statement that it was less wrong to destroy an embryo prior to implantation than it was to destroy a fetus during pregnancy, in comparison to 25% of couples in the control group. Ms Katz said: "PGD couples know that only a proportion of their embryos are normal and therefore they considered the destruction of abnormal embryos to be more acceptable. On the other hand, the patients undergoing their first IVF cycle considered every embryo to be potentially normal since every embryo to them is regarded as a potential baby."

When asked whether the couples, if given a choice, would accept the transfer of an embryo identified as being an asymptomatic carrier of the disease, two thirds of group A couples (who themselves are carriers) said "yes", compared with only a minority of the couples from group B and the control group

Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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