Artificial Conception

Genetic Testing of Embryos May Cause Dementia, Obesity In Adulthood (10/2009)

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has become a controversial part of the booming infertility and baby-making medical industry.

This example of unnatural selection allows for the chromosomes of an embryo created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) to be analyzed. If there's a problem, parents are encouraged to have an abortion.

Its backers have promoted the procedure as a widely used and safe medical test — at least, until now.

A new long-term analysis of PGD suggests that this procedure may hold serious long-term risks for humans subjected to this test while they were embryos. Animal tests have come up with worrisome evidence PGD could increase risks of obesity and dementia in adulthood.

While it's almost hard to believe, no rigorous long-term studies have been carried out in order to see whether PGD poses any serious health risks down the line — even though the procedure involves manipulating a developing embryo.

So Chinese scientists Ran Huo, Qi Zhou and colleagues decided to work with experiments in lab mice to examine how a blastomere biopsy, as the key manipulation used during the PGD procedure, actually impacts fetal, neonatal and adult development.

The results were disturbing. While the two groups of mice looked similar at first glance, the biopsied group of mice on average were fatter. What's more, they demonstrated significantly poorer memory in maze tests.

In all, 36 proteins displayed significant differences between biopsied and control groups — and 17 of these differences are closely associated with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimers and Down Syndrome.

[October 12, 2009, Ertelt, Washington, DC,]