There are many different medical, social, economic or cultural circumstances which put couples under the most intense pressure to produce a child of a specific gender. Scientists have identified thousands of health problems where genes play a part and many gender-related medical disorders can be passed from parent to child.
Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is a medical procedure which allows embryos to be tested for gender-related genetic conditions, prior to being placed in the womb, giving the best opportunity to select the gender of your baby. PGD involves tried and tested assisted conception techniques which are safe, reliable and ethically sound. In-vitro fertilization is now widely accepted and this forms the basis of our gender selection program.
PGD is beneficial when:
- Either one of a couple carrying a single gene defect, by testing for specific genetic disorders
- Women aged 35+, by testing for age-related chromosomal disorders
- Younger women with repeated unexplained miscarriages, by testing for chromosomal disorders
- Couples wanting to balance their family
Two days after fertilization, embryos consist of eight cells. Science is now so advanced, that at this stage is it possible to safely remove a single cell, analyze it for a range of gender-specific chromosomal disorders and ensure only unaffected embryos are implanted in the womb. This specialist technique is called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).
A single cell, carrying material used to support the foetus's development, is removed from the embryo and its chromosome structure is analyzed in carefully controlled laboratory conditions, with the X and Y chromosomes clearly distinguishable. The removal of a single cell does not damage the embryo's development in any way, and each embryo will continue to grow normally.
PGD is a helpful tool since babies born with chromosome abnormalities occur in:
- 1 in 1,000 births in women aged 30 or younger
- 1 in 350 births by 35
- 1 in 100 births by 40
- and ultimately 1 in 25 births by 45.
The purpose of PGD is to select only healthy embryos (for the chromosomes we can so far test for) for implantation in the hope of achieving more pregnancies, less spontaneous abortions and less affected offspring.
PGD is not devoid of risks but these are outweighed by the benefits. During the embryo biopsy, the risk of accidental damage to an embryo during removal of the cell(s) is very low - around 0.6%. Implantation rates might be detrimentally affected by embryo biopsy, although observation so far suggests this possibility is outweighed by the beneficial effect of PGD.
No part of the future foetus will be lacking because one or two cells are removed from the embryo about 3 -4 days after fertilization. All the cells of the embryo remain able to develop normally on their own until about the fourth day, which means that each cell by itself can grow into a whole and perfect foetus. The procedure merely delays development for a few hours, after which the embryo reaches the same number of cells as before and continues its normal development. Studies indicate that embryo biopsy does not harm the embryos.
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