MAP subject to epigenetics test



In the light of recent studies, Bioethics scientists at Montreal University voiced their concerns about "potential epigenetic risks associated with [1] medically assisted procreation" in a special edition of the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.

 

In Canada, "since the birth of the first baby conceived by in-vitro fertilisation in 1978, recourse to medically assisted procreation has continued to soar". In 2015, for instance, "7,435 viable pregnancies were made possible". However, "uncertainty in terms of their potentially negative effect on human beings" prevails. Recent research focused on the epigenetic risk associated with this technique in the future, i.e. the potential birth of children "with some diseases" "and deformities.

 

According to Vardit Ravitsky, one of the authors of the study, future parents are not sufficiently informed about the latest research findings in this area: "Historically, there is little discussion with parents about the risks involved. As soon as they arrive in the fertility clinic, the aim is pregnancy, and the dialogue focuses entirely in this direction". However, "in-depth research results should be included in the consent process". She points out that, "in the adoption sector, the principle of non-maleficence is invoked to refuse certain applications from would-be parents"Following similar lines, why not refuse assisted procreation on the grounds that this could have a negative impact on the child? she wonders. The three authors, Marie-Christine Roy, Charles Dupras and Vardit Ravitsky want "to encourage discussion on the subject of potential epigenetic effects". They encourage doctors to show "transparency" with couples so that they can sign an informed consent form. Charles Dupras also invites professional associations to consider "relevant strategies […] in this subject area […] in order to avoid arbitrary decisions".

 

For further reading: 

Heredity is more than the sum of our genes

[TRIBUNE] Edith Heard - Epigenetics: cell function is not just determinism

 

[1] "Whereas genetics studies genes and inheritance, epigenetics is defined as the study of biochemical changes which modify long-term gene expression without, however, triggering mutations in the DNA sequence".

 

 

 


Sources: 

France Diplomatique (09/08/2017); Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (24/05/2017); Udem Nouvelles, Marilou Garon (20/07/2017)