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Can IVF Prevent Thalassemia? Know What Experts Say

IVF is said to be an effective way to reduce the risk of thalassemia. Know how IVF can prevent this blood disorder.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: May 12, 2022Updated at: May 12, 2022
Can IVF Prevent Thalassemia? Know What Experts Say

Blood disorders can prove to be fatal if they get transferred from parents to children. Thalassemia is one of the five most common single gene disorder that affects Indian population.  Approximately 10,000 babies are born annually with beta thalassemia major in spite of so much advancement in diagnostic modalities. Beta thalassemia is an autosomal recessive disorder that occurs due to beta globin gene mutation. It is said that Invitro Fertilization can prevent thalassemia from occurring in the baby. Let us know how much of it is true.  

Thalassemia: What is the Risk?

We spoke to Dr. Sunita Arora, Senior Consultant and Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, Director IVF at Bloom IVF, Fortis La Femme, GK-II, New Delhi to know the influence of IVF treatment on chances of thalassemia in kids. If both husband and wife are carrier for beta thalassemia minor, there are 25% chances that child can be thalassemia major. This can prove to be catastrophic for the family emotionally as well as financially. In order to cut the risk of this terrible blood disorder, people choose IVF treatment to have healthy child. 

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Diagnosis of Thalassemia for IVF 

There is a simple blood test which can diagnose if any of the partners is thalassemia carrier and if test turns out to be positive, the other partner is also tested for same. In case both partners turn positive for test, IVF and preimplantation genetic diagnosis comes in picture.  

To understand this in simple words, the male and female gametes are fused in IVF lab and after fertilization are grown for five days to a stage called blastocyst. After blastocyst is formed, few cells are biopsied from it and are sent for genetic analysis. This is a highly specialized technique, which needs a lot of expertise and optimum lab conditions. After biopsy, these embryos are frozen and once genetic report is received, normal embryos and diseased embryos are identified. Only normal embryos are implanted to have thalassemia major free child.

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Prevention of Thalassemia with IVF Treatment 

IVF and preimplantation genetic testing are in fact a boon for couple suffering from genetic disorders in the family. Although once a lady conceives, the prenatal testing through chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis can also be done. But in case the child in womb turns out to be affected, couple has to undergo abortion which is psychologically very traumatic for the couple. On the other hand, preimplantation genetic diagnosis is an abortion free procedure and can pick up genetic disease in the embryos before they are implanted. 

Doctors say that they have treated many cases of following conditions with the help of IVF Treatment. 

  • Thalassemia 
  • Sickle cell disease 
  • Spinal muscular atrophy 
  • Neurofibromatosis 
  • Chromosomal disorders 

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Can IVF Prevent Thalassemia? 

The answer is Yes, IVF can be effective in treating condition of thalassemia and other such disorders.  Doctors from IVF centra, Fortis Hospital mentions that most of hereditary disorders including diseases like thalassemia, sickle cell anemia should be diagnosed in childhood.  

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It should be mandatory to detect hemoglobinopathy including carrier status if present, in childhood only. Also, all children who are carriers for thalassemia when grow up as adults should have a counselling regarding choosing a non-carrier partner.  

Preventive strategies are very important as per disease burden analysis. In Vitro fertilization followed b PGD (pre implantation genetic diagnosis) is the best option in current scenario to avoid birth of thalassemia major child.

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