In this interview, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi discusses Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), a medical procedure used to prevent childhood diseases and to also assist in sex selection, Godwin Haruna writes
Experts posit that the medical technique of Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) enables people with a specific inherited condition in their family to avoid passing it on to their children and it also helps to select the preferred sex of babies desired by couples.
Speaking to THISDAY in an interview recently on this technique, Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi stated that PGD is the genetic profiling of embryos created through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) for this genetic condition.
Ajayi explained that this medical technique, which is available at the fertility clinic is done through IVF and added that apart from the prevention of childhood diseases from mothers to their babies, it is also fool-proof for the selection of babies? sexes. He said with PGD, SS and AS couples are assured of making healthy babies provided conception is achieved through IVF.
He stated further that sex selection is for family balancing since it is possible that a couple might be having one particular sex and the search for the opposite sex might result in creating unnecessarily large families.
How does the procedure for PGD work? Ajayi explained it thus: ?You undergo normal in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment to collect and fertilise your eggs. The embryo is grown in the laboratory for two to three days until the cells have divided and the embryo consists of around eight cells.
?A trained embryologist removes one or two of the cells from the embryo. The cells are tested to see if the embryo from which they were removed contains the gene that causes the genetic condition in the family.
?Embryos unaffected by the condition are transferred to the womb to allow them to develop. Any suitable remaining unaffected embryos can be preserved for later use and those embryos that are affected by the condition are allowed to perish.
?About two weeks after the embryo transfer, the woman is given a pregnancy blood test.?
Ajayi noted that genetic testing of the embryos might be recommended under the following conditions: ?You have had a number of abortions because your baby had a genetic condition, you already have a child with a serious genetic condition and you have a family history of a serious genetic condition.?
According to the gynaecologist, PGD can be used to test for many genetic conditions including sickle cell and down syndrome and where the diseases are present, there is nearly 100 per cent certainty that they would not be passed to the children.
He added that the procedure increases the chances of older people seeking conception through IVF because once the embryos that could become babies are identified the chances become faster for the couple.
He stated that PGD is an area of medicine that is rapidly developing, therefore, some countries might have ethical issues with it, but he quickly added that this would not pose problems to many others that do not rigidly enforce child limitation policies.
Ajayi explained that the medical procedure is supported by a system of care and preservation and with that, about 80 per cent of embryos survive; adding: ?One of the problems before was preservation of the embryos, but now this has been made easier with modern technology.?
In answer to a question, he stated that the technique has a faster rate of success in terms of achieving conception through IVF for couples who are having one particular sex of children and desire to have a change.
Ajayi noted that most of the risks involved in PGD treatment are similar to those for conventional IVF and which is that there is the possibility that some embryos might be damaged in the process of cell removal.
He advised couples to seek tested scientific solution to their medical problems instead of looking elsewhere, especially in spiritual homes whose calling is totally different from the practice of medicine adding; ?With embryos selection in PGD, you have your desired child free from the encumbrances of childhood diseases.?