Thursday, September 29, 2011

"In-Vitro Fertilization Linked to Rare Genetic Disorders"

Dr. Rosanna Weksberg, a geneticist at the University of Toronto has been studying the correlation between in-vitro fertilized children and genetic disorders, particularly concerning mental disability and cognitive function. Her studies shown that in-vitro fertilization increases a child's risk of being mentally disabled by ten times and puts the child at a higher risk of two rare diseases: Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and Angelman syndrome. The first produces symptoms such as unevenly sized limbs and high risk of kidney tumors, while the second causes mental retardation and speech impairment. Both of these diseases are typically not inherited, but rather caused by a mutation in chromosomes 11 and 15 respectively.

Additionally, in-vitro fertilization is often linked to multiple births- twins, triplets, and beyond. The high proportion of these births are worrisome because of the high risks associated with multiple births, such as the need for intensive care unit and dangers to the mother.

The cause of these in-vitro induced genetic diseases are currently unclear. Predictions range from the biological parents infertility problems to In-Vitro treatment itself. However, research is being done to determine the causes using Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), a technology that studies the genes of in-vitro embryos before the embryos are implanted into the mother's uterus.

How should the government deal with the risks involved with In-Vitro Fertilization? Is this topic even in the domain of public affairs? Recently, Canada's Federal Assisted Human Reproduction Act was overruled, meaning that less public investment is going in research behind this procedure. But Quebec presents itself as a model of a successful In-Vitro policy, funding the procedure in 2010 under Medicare and all but eliminating unintended In-Vitro multiple births.

The debate around In-Vitro fertilization is truly interesting. By bringing the miracle of life to those who otherwise would not be able to, are we benefiting society by possibly increasing the risk of certain, harmful genetic mutations, decreasing the rate of adoption, or are we truly benefiting human population?

Here is the link to the main article:

And if you want to find out more about the studies behind In-Vitro Fertilization, here are a few sources:

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