Clinics begin health tests for embryos
Screening of embryos for genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis is being made available at fertility clinics in Dublin and Cork.
Parents can undergo routine fertility treatment and produce embryos which can be tested to show if they are free of a specific disorder.
Couples previously had to go abroad for the tests, but licences have now been granted to the Beacon CARE Fertility Clinic in Dublin and the Cork Fertility Centre.
The Beacon service is also offering another test which screens the egg and embryo for chromosomal abnormalities, a major cause of miscarriage and IVF failure.
Sandra Brett, medical director of the Beacon facility said Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) allows for genetic testing of the embryo prior to implantation.
PGD allows for testing of a broad range of inherited diseases which parents are at risk of passing on to their children.
A second test called Array CGH screens the egg and embryo for chromosomal abnormalities, and has been proven to improve the birth rate in women who have undergone IVF.
"It is suitable for many patients, particularly women who are aged 37, men who have been shown to have sperm at risk of carrying abnormal chromosomes and couples who have had several miscarriages or failed attempts at IVF."
A spokeswoman for the Beacon facility said the PGD costs €5,490 for analysis of a single gene disorder, in addition to €4,900 for the fertility treatment. The Array CGH costs €2,950 for analysis of up to eight samples in addition to the fertility treatment cost.
Meanwhile, Dr John Waterstone, medical Director of the Cork Fertility Centre, said they will initially offer the testing for cystic fibrosis.
He said that even though one in 19 of the Irish population is a cystic fibrosis carrier, the highest rate in the world, it has not been the norm for couples to be screened before having children.
The centre has carried out rigorous pilot studies and the Irish Medicines Board is satisfied it will carry out the embryo biopsy to a high standard.