Should Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening be available free for anyone to use

This report is going to be about Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening and whether or not it should be available to anybody, free, who wants to have a baby. I am going to be looking at two topics which are Aneuploidy and Sex selection. The reason why I am going to be talking about these two topics is because Aneuploidy is an inherited disease caused when there is a change in the number of chromosomes. I shall also be talking about sex selection because in order to do so, PGS must be used.

Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening is when chromosomes of embryos are taken from In-vitro fertilisation. Once this is collected, the embryo will be screened for abnormalities or problems to do with the chromosomes. The procedure helps the doctor to be able to find the embryo with no chromosomal abnormalities which will then be ready for implantation into the womb. PGS reduces the child of having any sort of disorders due to a genetic or chromosomal problem. However, some people do think that this procedure should not be taking place.

Currently who is it available to?

It is not available to all women, it is only for those who

1. Are over 35

2. Has a family history of genetic/chromosomal abnormalities

3. Failed attempts of IVF

4. Had three or more miscarriages

The reason for these strict guidelines is because that when you are older, the likelihood of issues to do with birth or genetics is higher. The reason for this is because as you get older, the cells are older too which means that the cells are likely to be mutated or mutating which can lead to problems in having birth. One of these problems would be Aneuploidy where there is a missing chromosome or an extra chromosome which could lead to genetic diseases such as Down syndrome.

The development of having a baby

In every nucleus of a cell in the human body, there are 46 chromosomes and 23 pairs. Half of the pairs are inherited by the mother (XX) and the other half is inherited by the father (XY). Only one pair of the 23 pairs is used for the determination of the sex of the baby, the other 22 pairs are called autosomes. The egg cells from the mother contain XX chromosomes and from the father it is XY. If the X chromosome from the male fertilises with the mother’s egg, it will be a female (XX). But if the Y chromosome from the male fertilises with the egg it will be a male (XY). This means that it is a 50% chance of the offspring being either male or female.

Aneuploidy

Aneuploidy is when there is either an extra or missing chromosome in a cell. If this was the case, it would lead to a genetic disease such as Down syndrome. This is when PGS is necessary where the embryo is screened for any Aneuploidy and the ones that have the correct number of chromosomes are implanted into the mother’s womb.

The screening for Aneuploidy involves ‘Fluorescence in situ hybridization’. This is when chromosomes are identified by utilizing fluorescent probes which are especially made for chromosomes. This allows the chromosomes to be viewed under a microscope where it can be then checked for any abnormalities.

The chances of a woman to give birth to a child with a chromosomal abnormality will be higher if the mother is older than 35.

1. 30 years is 1 in 385

2. 35 years is 1 in 179

3. 40 years is 1 in 63

4. 45 years is 1 in 19

This is said, the number of Aneuploidy in embryos are much are than the number of babies born with Aneuploidy conditions. The reason for this is because a birth with Aneuploidy is less likely to occur because it is less likely for it to attach to the uterus. Therefore, there is a higher chance of a miscarriage decreasing the number of births with the disease.

This graph is proof showing that the percentage of abnormal eggs is increasing as the age of the mother increases. At the age of 37, the percentage of an abnormal baby is 40%. Only another three more years is needed for that percentage to be increased to 50.

Having said all of this, the reason why I want PGS to be available to anyone is because if by chance a baby is born with a genetic abnormality such as Aneuploidy, it is highly unlikely that the baby will survive birth. The outcome of this is that the parents will be highly affected by it. The mother especially may encounter emotional issues with a tragic loss of a miscarriage. We need to put a stop to this.

The procedure of both IVF and PGS

1. The woman takes drugs in order to stimulate the production of eggs

1. Once the egg has grown, they are collected by a fertility doctor

1. The man produces a sperm sample; this is sent to the fertility doctor. The doctor places the sperm with the egg inside a Petri dish for it to fertilise

1. Once the egg is developed into an embryo, it is tested for any disease causing alleles. Once an embryo without and faults are identified, the doctor implants it into the mothers uterus.

Sex selection

Sex selection is when you have the control of being able to choose the gender of the offspring using embryo selection.

There are many reasons why people go through with sex selection. The death of a child is a very unfortunate thing that many parents have to suffer from. Some parents may have lost a child at a young age; sex selection comes in where the couple has the choice of having another baby of the same gender of the one that died.

Another reason why parents may want to use sex selection may be to have a balanced family. Couples that already have a child may want to have another child of a different sex so that there is a balance in gender within the family. This is a popular reason between couples.