In-vitro fertilization

IVF linked to rare genetic disorders

Dr. Weksberg who is a geneticist at the University of Toronto, has called for more study of the link between fertility treatment and certain rare genetic abnormalities. She notes that babies, who are born after this treatment, are 10 times more likely to suffer from these disorders. These babies also have an increased likelihood to be born at a low birth weight, and there is conflicting research suggesting an increased risk of autism. She says that in her genetic clinic, she is seeing many people who were conceived through fertility treatment and who have one of the conditions.

For example, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome can cause unevenly sized limbs, an enlarger tongue, and a high risk of kidney tumors. It occurs in one of every 13,000 children in the general population, but at a much higher rate of one in 1,300 in children conceived through IVF. Similarly, Angelman syndrome which causes serious mental retardation and speech impairment, increases from one in 15,000 births amoung the general population to one in 1,500 among fertility-treatment children.

Dr. Weksberg said that the exact cause of the genetic problems in unknown, but it could be a combination of the biological parents’ infertility problems and genetics, as well as the treatments themselves.

Link to an article about Dr. Weksberg in the National Post:

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