Did you know that most IVF miscarriages are due to genetic abnormalities? Imagine going through the ups and downs of IVF, only to fail.
A research studied 2172 IVF miscarriages. It found that an astonishing 46.11% had abnormal genetic material. Likewise, genetic abnormalities caused 83 out of 198 IVF in another study. Shockingly, 90.4% of these also had odd genetic numbers. In other words, IVF pregnancies have a 50% higher risk of congenital disabilities than normal pregnancies.
These numbers highlight the need for understanding and using genetic screening in IVF. Dive in to learn:
What is Genetic Screening in IVF and How Does it Work?
Genetic screening in IVF takes a closer look at an embryo, the earliest baby form.
During IVF, doctors mix the eggs with sperm in a lab. These fuse by the 5th or 6th day to form an embryo. Doctors analyze DNA from embryo cells to detect genetic abnormalities. Specifically, they look at the chromosomes. A chromosome is like an instruction book inside our body’s cells that tells them how to grow, work, and look.
If the number of chromosomes isn’t right or there are any issues with them, it can cause problems in pregnancy. Once doctors know which embryos are healthy, they pick the best ones to place in the woman’s uterus.
The Benefits of Genetic Screening in IVF: Why is it Important?
Checking embryos helps pick the healthiest ones. This provides two key benefits:
#1 Genetic Testing Boosts IVF Success Rates
Research shows genetic screening in IVF:
- Increases the chances of getting pregnant. With testing, the success rate is 49.5%, compared to 38.6% without.
- Reduces miscarriage rates to 18.1%. This number is 75% with no genetic testing.
- Raises the chances of having a baby to 50%. Without genetic testing, this number is 12.5%.
#2 Genetic Screening in IVF Can Lead to Healthier Babies
Testing allows doctors to pick the embryos with the best genes. This leads to healthier kids in the long run. For example:
- For families with a history of type-1 diabetes, genetic tests can lower the child’s risk of getting diabetes by 72%.
- In one study, the embryos chosen through screening led to taller kids with higher IQs.
What Conditions Can Genetic Testing Screen for in IVF?
Aneuploidy (issues with chromosome number) is the most common issue found through genetic screening. Testing can also detect other conditions. Here’s a summary:
|Genetic Test Type||Condition Detected|
|Preimplantation genetic testing – Aneuploidy (PGT-A)||
|Preimplantation genetic testing – Monogenic (PGT-M)||
|Preimplantation genetic testing – Structural
How to Choose the Right Genetic Screening Test for You in IVF?
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to genetic testing in IVF. Everyone’s situation is unique. So, looking at your family’s medical history and chatting with a genetic counselor is essential.
With that said, the following table highlights each test’s strength:
|Genetic Test||Use Case|
|PGT-A||Enables selection of embryos with correct chromosomal number|
|PGT-M||Detects single-gene disorder. This is the preferred test when both parents carry mutations.|
|PGT-S||Suitable when one or both partners have structural chromosomal problems.|
|Carrier screening||Used when there’s a risk of passing certain conditions to babies. Parents carry the gene but don’t show any symptoms.|
Please get in touch with us for a personalized recommendation.
What are the Risks of Genetic Screening in IVF?
As with any medical procedure, genetic screening in IVF has risks and limitations. Let’s discuss these in more detail:
- Extracting cells from embryos can damage them. This can lead to complications during pregnancy or even congenital disabilities.
- No test is perfect. Even though genetic screening is usually correct, there’s still a tiny chance it could be off. This can happen when embryos have a mix of regular and non-normal cells or laboratory errors. Additionally, even with the best embryo, there’s no promise a child will be healthy.
- Genetic testing is emotionally challenging. The wait for test results is nerve-wracking. Also, some women remain unsure even after getting their results. These can also be expensive, which leads to further stress.
Who Should Consider Genetic Screening in IVF?
Everyone looking to get pregnant with IVF should consider genetic testing. In particular, it can help:
- When one or both parents have a family history of genetic issues. This way, they can find embryos without those issues and lower the chance of their child having them.
- Women get pregnant. As women age, the quality of their eggs goes down. This means a higher chance of problems with the baby’s genes. Some women can’t get pregnant because of issues in their eggs. Genetic screening can also spot these problems.
- Women who have had repeated miscarriages. Sometimes, women have repeated miscarriages because of hidden problems with the baby’s genes. With screening, they can find and use the healthiest embryos. In one study, the chances of a miscarriage dropped to 18% (from 75%) with genetic screening.
How to Prepare for Genetic Screening in IVF?
Preparing well is vital for genetic screening success. It will help you deal with the emotional and physical challenges.
To get ready:
- Speak with a genetic counselor to know what to expect.
- Get a full health check along with your partner. It’ll help foresee any problems that could affect the pregnancy.
- Choose a trusted IVF clinic with a good track record.
- Plan your finances and find out what your insurance will cover.
- Seek emotional support.
What are the Costs Associated with Genetic Screening in IVF?
|Type||Average cost (SGD)||Average cost (USD)|
|Combined PGT-A and PGT-M||6000-12000||4400-8800|
Is Genetic Screening in IVF Covered by Insurance?
Starting July 1st, 2022, MediShield covers a significant part (75%) of the costs for genetic testing.
If both partners are Singapore Citizens, you can also get financial support. The amount varies based on the genetic test. For instance, you can get:
- SGD 12,250 for the complete PGT-SR process.
- SGD 17,100 for common disorders and up to SGD 31,420 for rare ones when testing with PGT-M.
Navigating the world of IVF can take time and effort. That’s where genetic screening comes in. It offers a clearer picture and helps hopeful parents make the best choices. Thus, it boosts the chances of a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby.
But, like all tools, it has its pros and cons. It’s crucial to chat with experts, understand all the angles, and decide what’s best for you. Click here to speak to an expert today!
Azrung Fayaz is a Board-certified physician with 5+ years of experience working with trusted healthcare companies worldwide, such as Bicycle Health, Nectar Allergy, and NOVI Health. He has authored more than 200+ articles and 10 international publications. His areas of expertise include Health & Wellness, Weight loss, Nutrition, Mental Health, Joint Disease, Addiction (Opioid/Alcohol), Health-Tech and Reproductive Health. You can also follow him on Linkedin.
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