July 9, 2011

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis OK'd in Germany

One of the most common assisted reproductive technologies (ART)  involves in vitro fertilization, followed by implantation and birth. The use of IVF is often sought by couples at risk for transmitting genetic disease, and a technique known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) allows fertilized embryos to be tested prior to implantation with the goal of only implanting those free of the genetic condition. This technique is routinely used in the U.S. and most of Europe; here is the standard PGD recommendations issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).  Against the backdrop of the German Embryo Protection Act, which has been interpreted to prohibit PGD use, the German parliament has voted to remove the prohibition against the use of PGD, thus bringing Germany in line with the rest of Europe. What was notable about the holdout over PGD in Germany was that methods for prenatal diagnosis (PND) during pregnancy are widely used, with the possibility that abortion remains an option to avoid the birth of a child with genetic disease. With that option already available, the absence of the preventive measures offered by PGD were increasingly viewed as contradictory, not to mention out of step with the ART options available in most Western countries.

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