Europe struggles to meet the challenges posed by PGD patients travelling abroad

Lyon, France -- A new study has shown that increasing numbers of couples are travelling abroad for preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), and that the main reason for this cross-border movement is the legal position in patients countries of origin.

Mr James Lawford Davies, a solicitor specialising in reproductive and genetic technologies, told the 23rd annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Monday 2 July) that the main reason couples travelled to other countries was because PGD was banned in their own. However, this led to concerns over how referrals were made, whether or not the referral itself might be unlawful, and the quality (or even the existence) of counselling, medical advice, support, monitoring and follow-up for families and their children. Other reasons for travelling abroad included the quality of the treatment, test availability, expertise in certain diseases, cost and length of waiting lists in their home countries.

This is the first EU-wide study of provision and regulation of PGD, a technique for testing embryos fertilised in the laboratory for specific genetic or sex-linked disorders such as cystic fibrosis or Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Only unaffected embryos are transferred to the womans uterus, thus avoiding the possible need for a pregnancy termination when the defect is picked up at a later stage.

The study [1] was launched by the European Commission after a workshop organised jointly by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), ESHRE and the European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) revealed that little was know about the extent to which couples crossed national boundaries to gain access to treatment and what different regulatory frameworks for PGD existed in Member States. Mr Lawford Davies, who lectures in law and medicine at the Institute for Human Genetics at Newcastle University and i

Contact: Emma Mason
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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