IVF linked to rare genetic disorders

As a follow-up to yesterday’s story on birth defects, here’s another problem with IVF:

A University of Toronto geneticist is calling for more study of a link between fertility treatment and certain rare genetic disorders, noting that babies born after treatment are up to 10 times more likely to suffer from the conditions — one of which causes serious mental disability. And that is likely just the tip of the iceberg, Dr. Rosanna Weksberg said after addressing Canada’s fertility-medicine community recently.

Dr. Weksberg said she supports in-vitro fertilization and other reproductive-technology procedures, with the “wonderful” benefits they usually bring families, but noted that she is already seeing many fertilitytreatment offspring with one of the conditions show up in her genetics clinic.

Called Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, causing symptoms such as unevenly sized limbs, an enlarged tongue and a high risk of kidney tumours, it occurs in one of every 1,300 such children, compared to one in 13,000 in the general population.


“It’s a very real source of concern,” said Dr. Roger Pierson, a University of Saskatchewan fertility scientist. “We’re still in the first two generations of people born with assisted-reproduction technology … and there is lots we don’t know about them.”

The genetic conditions detailed by Dr. Weksberg include not just Beckwith-Wiedemann, but also Angelman syndrome, which can cause serious mental retardation and speech impairment, and jumps from one in 15,000 births to one in 1,500 among fertility-treatment kids, she said. (Source)

Why on earth would you do this? 

We live in a crazy society where, on the one hand, we have “excess” babies that people are aborting at the rate of 100,000 per year, and on the other hand we have infertile couples so desperate to have a child that they’ll take these huge risks using mad-scientist technologies. Why don’t we just balance this problem naturally by giving the “excess” babies to infertile couples?

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