Picture Emerging on Genetic Risks of In Vitro Fertilization

Over the past 30 years, in vitro fertilization has been reassuringly safe. Millions of healthy children have been born and developed normally. And the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, born in England on July 25, 1978, now has her own child, 2-year-old Cameron, conceived without the technique.

But researchers have always wondered whether there might be subtle changes in an embryo that is grown for several days in a petri dish, as IVF embryos are — and, if so, whether would there be any consequences.

Now, with new epidemiological studies and new techniques that allow scientists to probe the genes of embryo cells, some tentative answers are starting to emerge.

The issues have nothing to do with the chances that a woman will have twins, triplets or even, as just happened in California, octuplets. Instead, they involve questions of whether there are changes in gene expression or in developmental patterns, which may or may not be obvious at birth.

For example, some studies indicate that there may be some abnormal patterns of gene expression associated with IVF and a possible increase in rare but devastating genetic disorders that appear to be directly linked to those unusual gene expression patterns. There also appears to be an increased risk of premature birth and of babies with low birth weight for their gestational age. Go Here For The Full Story

It is important to note here that IVF is not sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Visit the USCCB site to learn more about Catholic Teaching on In Vitro Fertilization.


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