Two clinics to offer embryo screening
Two Irish fertility clinics have been licensed by the Irish Medicines Board to carry out embryo screening for genetic diseases for which Irish couples previously had to travel overseas.
Beacon Care Fertility in Dublin and the Cork Fertility Clinic have been licensed by the IMB to carry out embryo screening or preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which will identify genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF).
Beacon Care Fertility has also been licensed to carry out chromosome screening (Array CGH), which screens eggs and embryos for chromosomal abnormalities that are a leading cause of miscarriage and in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) failure.
According to a spokeswoman for the clinic, Array CGH is suitable for many patients, particularly women over the age of 37 and men with sperm at risk of carrying abnormal chromosomes.
“Array CGH, which was pioneered by Care Fertility in 2008, is also suitable for couples who have had several miscarriages or several failed attempts at IVF for which no explanation has been found,” she said.
Cork Fertility Clinic medical director Dr John Waterstone said couples at risk of having a child with CF would no longer have to travel abroad for embryo screening and can use the clinic’s service.“The situation for most couples at risk of having a baby with CF is that both partners, while completely healthy, are carriers for the disease and there is a one in four chance that any child that they have will be affected by the disease,” he said.
According to Dr Waterstone, it has not been the norm for Irish couples to be screened for CF before having children and, while some couples are aware of the risk because of family history, most find out only when they have had a child with CF. He said the Cork clinic would for now use PGD to identify CF risks but the technology can be used to detect other genetic risk factors in embryos.