A special DNA test enables would-be parents to find out if their offspring would be genetically predisposed toward birth defects.
The Groninger Internet Courant writes that the carrier status test has been developed by UMCG and there are six family doctors who have been trained to administer it.
The test determines whether the genes of the would-be parents are carriers of 70 serious autosomal recessive disorders which are either congenital or likely to develop soon after the child is born. The test focuses on painful and fatal illnesses that can cause physical deformities and intellectual disabilities which are difficult, if not impossible, to treat.
Twenty-five percent chance
The carrier status test checks blood samples from both partners to determine whether or not they are carriers of the same hereditary diseases. The odds of a man and a woman both carrying genes for the same disease is one in 150. If both members of the couple are carriers, they have a 25 percent chance of having a child with the disease. Based on the outcome of the test, couples may be referred to UMCG for guidance about their options.
If the couple finds out that their child may have a genetic disorder but decides to try and get pregnant, they can have a chorionic villus sampling to determine if the foetus actually has it. Couples are also given the option to pursue in vitro fertilisation with embryo selection, or to use a sperm or egg donor who does not carry the genetic disorder. They may also choose not to have children, or even get separated.
Six family doctors in Groningen, Friesland and Overijssel can carry out the test, which costs 950 euros and is not currently covered by health insurance. More doctors and obstetricians will be trained to conduct the test in the future.