PGD or Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is a pioneering and dynamic technique, not only to select the gender of your child for family balancing, but also check the embryos for chromosomal disorders and genetic diseases. It involves the screening of embryonic cells and is performed with IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) before the embryo is transferred to the mother’s uterus and pregnancy is established.
Both PGD and PGS (Preimplantation Genetic Screening) come with slightly intimidating phrases for many couples. But, what they really do is give us the ability to look inside the embryo, see if any essential components are missing or duplicated, and then act upon the information.
In the past, without pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or screening, a couple would conceive a child, the woman would feel pregnant, see her child within her, feel the heartbeat etc. Then, at a later stage, if the child was found to have a genetic abnormality, they would be called to make an incredibly difficult decision: Keep the child who may have no quality of life or select to terminate the pregnancy? It is estimated that 50% – 80% of infants born with Trisomy 13 don’t even survive until they are one month old and an overwhelming 90% die by 6 months of age. At the later stages of pregnancy, when abnormalities become apparent on ultrasound scans, the parents already have a strong bond with the child and therefore it’s incredibly difficult for a couple to decide to terminate the pregnancy. With PGD, we make those decisions on embryos and not babies.
The number of children suffering from chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorders was overwhelming but now, with the discovery of PGD and PGS, very serious, life-threatening diseases can be avoided.
How can PGD help you to give birth to a healthy child ?
The PGD process enables patients that have (or are carriers of) a genetic disorder to undergo IVF treatment and create embryos even though there is a risk of abnormality. After three days of development, we take some cells from the embryo and determine whether this child will have the disease, be a carrier or not have the condition at all. The results allow us to select the embryo or embryos that are free from the disease and transfer only those healthy embryos into the mother. This guarantees, to an accuracy of 99.9%, that the couple can have a child free from single-gene genetic diseases.
What is PGS ?
In short, PGD allows us to check for single-gene disorders (more than 4,000 in total) while PGS takes testing a step further and gives us the means to check the embryo for a variety of disorders, not just known single-gene disorders. Team Miracle at Cyprus IVF Centre use 5 probe fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) to check chromosomes 13, 18, 21, X and Y for mutations. This improves the couple’s chances of a successful pregnancy. It applies the same technology as PGD and is an excellent option for people with recurrent pregnancy loss and older women. With PGS, we screen embryos for aneuploidy, one of the main causes of miscarriage and failure of the embryo to implant successfully into the mother’s uterus. The goal is to identify embryos that are chromosomally normal to transfer.
Should I have PGD or PGS ?
PDG is a valuable tool for couples in which either both or just one of the partners is a carrier of an inherited genetic disorder. In some cases, passing on the disease to their offspring is as high as 50% or more. With PGD, we eliminate that risk.
PGS helps to identify normal embryos and can be applied to any embryo produced during an IVF cycle. Approximately 20% of embryos in women younger than 35 will have chromosomal abnormalities, with the number increasing to 80% or higher in women over 40. PGS can save the patient from experiencing miscarriage, termination or the birth of a baby with severe disabilities.
The specificity, sensitivity and accuracy of both techniques reach almost 99% and the only downside to the process is that a couple may not have any embryos available for transfer. There are times when all embryos are abnormal; thus, cannot be implanted into the uterus and the cycle is cancelled. Team Miracle and our doctors will explain every step of the process to you so that you understand the options available for you.
PGD and PGS : The Process
If you are recommended to have PGD/PGS, you will need to have the same fertility tests and laboratory work performed as with an IVF cycle. You will then undergo ovarian stimulation, retrieval of the oocyte and IVF. That way, we can produce multiple embryos to evaluate.
On day three of embryo development, we remove a cell from the embryos which are 8 cells in size to conduct a biopsy. If there are embryos that have not developed to the required stage of development by day three, they are not used for PGD. Once the cells are biopsied, the embryos continue developing whilst we wait for the results from the genetic professor.
On day five, the embryos will have reached blastocyst stage and our doctors will receive the test results. She will study the healthy embryos under the microscope if a patient is using the benchtop incubator or she will assess the EmbryoScope incubator images if used during the cycle and she will determine which of the healthy embryos should be transferred. Team Miracle allow patients to transfer a maximum of four blastocyst embryos.
Of course, our patient coordinators will be by your side, ready to answer all your questions and reply to your concerns regarding the PGD procedure and anything else that you are unsure about.
Importance of Selecting Experts to Perform PGD and PGS
In the wrong hands, these remarkable methods can bring disaster. There is a risk the embryo is damaged during the biopsy if the embryologists are not experienced. Also, they may not obtain a diagnosis on the biopsy or you may get a misdiagnosis. Both signs of professionals that lack substantial knowledge on this matter.
It is also possible a single embryonic cell has different chromosome numbers than others in the biopsy (mosaicism). If the embryologist is not aware of this rare case, they could misdiagnose the patient’s embryos.
At Cyprus IVF Centre, we have nullified all these issues since everything is carried out by medical professionals and genetic professors with years of experience and ongoing training with research developments. Team Miracle are constantly searching for any pioneering idea or revolutionary technique that could better the lives of our patients and provide us with advanced tools to fight infertility. The desire to grant people’s deepest wish to have a healthy child keeps us on the front line.
The success of a pregnancy lies in many factors, such as the quality of the embryos, the mother’s age and other fertility-related factors dependent on the individual situation. However, everybody at the Cyprus IVF Centre works towards your best interests continuously. With methods such as PGD and PGS, we significantly increase success rates and elevate your chances to conceive and give birth to a healthy baby.
It’s not by accident that we have achieved the highest success rates on the island and three times the success rates you can get in the UK. Completing your family and holding your baby in your arms is no longer just a far-fetched dream. Contact one of the Team Miracle coordinators to begin your journey today.