For many genetic conditions, cures do not currently exist and are not likely to be found soon, and available treatments often carry substantial risks or have adverse effects. Even if effective, affordable treatment were guaranteed to be available, the psychological impact of late onset conditions on those at risk and on their families is significant. Therefore, the option of preventing the condition may be preferable to waiting for a possible cure to eventually become available.
An alternative to prenatal diagnostic testing: Couples avoid the distress associated with diagnosis, particularly if late in an established pregnancy.
An alternative to termination of pregnancy: If prenatal testing (through amniocentesis or chorionic villus tests reveals a genetic abnormality, the options available to parents are to have a child with a genetic condition or to undergo a pregnancy termination. This is a difficult and often traumatic decision. However, PGD is performed before pregnancy begins, thus eliminating this difficult decision.
The opportunity to conceive a pregnancy that is biologically the parents’ own and yet unaffected by a genetic condition in the family: couples for whom the option of prenatal testing and termination is not an acceptable choice may not want to take the risk of a child having a genetic condition. In the past, potential parents with a genetic condition or those who know that they are carriers frequently chose adoption, embryo donation, or surrogacy or chose not to have children in order to avoid the risk of passing on the condition. PGD now allows these couples the opportunity to have a child free of the condition.
Most of the risks involved in PGD treatment are similar to those for conventional IVF:
No strong evidence currently exists to suggest that babies conceived through this process are at any greater risk of abnormality than babies conceived through other forms of assisted reproduction.
Several studies have concluded that there do not appear to be any major side-effects to the PGD treatment. However, there is evidence that babies conceived through IVF are more likely to:
Follow-up data remains limited and long-term outcomes are unknown. It is important to continue to monitor the progress of children born following PGD, to gather information about the potential impact of the treatment.