In-vitro fertilization isn't the easy path to parenthood by any means: it costs thousands of dollars and involves precise scheduling, emotional upheaval, and an enormous amount of powerful medications. And after all that, the odds are really, really crappy; around 28 percent of all IVF cycles result in a live birth.
But there's a new procedure that could be changing the game for people struggling to build their family: a new type of genetic testing of embryos before they are transferred back into the mother that boosts the pregnancy rate to a whopping 92 percent (versus 60 percent). Even better, the "sustained implantation" rate (in other words, a continuing pregnancy) is all the way up at 75 percent (from 56 percent).
Whoa. That is huge for families facing what might be a last-ditch effort at a biological child.
The process of testing embryos before they are transferred isn't new; however, before now, it's mostly been offered to people with known genetic concerns, recurrent miscarriages, or several failed IVFs behind them. In this new study, though, a type of pre-implantation genetic testing was done on embryos from couples under the age of 43, with "less than one" failed IVF under their belt. It allows doctors to pick the "most likely to succeed" embryos with the healthiest chromosomes for transfer, which means a better chance for success.
This isn't all sunshine and puppy dogs; there are some serious ethical concerns here. Embryonic genetic testing is already used by some clinics to allow people to choose the sex of their babies; expanding its use could cause more of that type of moral problem. Of course there's the perennial "designer babies" argument; that people will choose only babies with desirable traits beyond those needed for life, like blue eyes or height.
Would you try genetic testing?
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