Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Detecting defects their aim

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Damansara Women’s Specialist Centre has defended a method it uses to allow parents to choose the gender of their child.
"We would like to stress that our emphasis has always been on screening for chromosome abnormalities," said group administrative director Wenddi- Anne Chong.
She said the centre’s pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) technology allowed for identification of an embryo’s gender in patients with sex-linked diseases, such as haemophilia (which afflicts males), and Down Syndrome.
"It also allows the determination of sex of the embryos, in particular, for conditions with a sex-linked disorder, so that only embryos of certain sex without inherited diseases are selected for transfer into the mother’s womb," she said in a statement.
The New Sunday Times on June 24 reported the centre’s first PGD baby, 18-month-old boy Yau Tack being born to Wong Ngan Chui, 36.
Yesterday, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said "a tough Act" was being drawn up to prevent fertility clinics from using assisted reproductive technology to determine gender, physical or social characteristics in babies.
Chong said the PGD involved testing early-stage embryos for chromosomal abnormalities, so that only healthy embryos were selected for transfer into the mother’s womb.
The centre’s data showed that in Malaysia at least 30 per cent of the embryos of patients below 35 had chromosomal abnormalities.
This increased to 36.2 per cent for those aged 35 to 37, and over 50 per cent for women over 37.

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