Sunday, November 6, 2011

Are test-tube babies at an increased risk for imprinting disorders?

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) use has increased exponentially since the first successful report came in 1978. However, it has been suggested that these methods put the babies at higher risk for genomic imprinting disorders. Specifically, Angelman's syndrome and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (imprinting disorder on Ch11)have been the most studied. While these and other imprinting disorders have been shown in some studies to be more prevalent among ART kiddos, in the way of science others have failed to show such results. Global hypomethylation of maternal alleles leads credence to this idea, but small sample sizes and an inability to control for confounding variables muddles up the picture. Ah, we say it again: more science is needed to further elucidate what's really going on. In any case, this brings another moral question to the table. How does everyone feel about ART (from a medical vs. an evolutionary perspective)?

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