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A new National Institute of Reproductive Genetics (NIRG) has been established in Dublin to provide a range of genetic tests and services for couples that may be at risk of having a child with a genetic disorder.

This institute is particularly relevant to women who have left it later in life to begin having a family; approximately 30 per cent of the embryos found in women in their early thirties are abnormal, with this figure soaring to 75 per cent when they are over the age of 40.

Speaking about the NIRG, Dr Bart Kuczera, consultant with Beacon CARE Fertility said: “The Institute offers two distinct fertility services for patients, Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) which have transformed the outcomes for thousands of our patients both in Ireland and the UK.

“PGD is offered to couples who are aware that they may have a risk of having a child with a serious genetic disorder. It involves the couple undergoing fertility treatment, even if they have no fertility issues, and having the embryos tested with only the healthy embryos being replaced in the uterus”.

Patients who have a history of genetic services such as Cystic Fibrosis, Haemophilia and Huntingtons disease often avail of this service, as the institute is can now test for over 400 different types of disorders.

“Over 70% of embryos produced either through natural conception or through fertility treatment are lost before implantation or to miscarriage due to chromosome abnormalities and this increases as a women ages”, he continued.

“We use PGD to screen for general chromosome abnormalities but this process doesn’t identify specific single gene related disorders such as cystic fibrosis. The treatment benefits women who have had failed fertility treatments, women with a history of recurrent miscarriages and women who are over the age of 35 with declining fertility”.