How Much Does Genetic Testing for Embryos Cost?

Medical vials for genetic testing

Couples who believe they could pass genetic diseases to their offspring may wonder, "How much does genetic testing for embryos cost?"

Genetic Testing

Couples undergo genetic testing on their embryos for a number of reasons. For starters, couples who may be carriers of certain genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, may request the testing to make sure that they are not passing on a disease to their children. Once the test is performed on embryos that are ready for implantation, the doctors and parents choose to implant only those embryos that appear to be healthy.

In other cases, parents who are carriers for a potentially life-threatening disease that affects one particular gender will choose to carry only embryos of the opposite sex. This is useful for diseases that may not show up on genetic testing or that may not develop until later in life.

Most genetic embryonic testing can only be used by couples who are trying to conceive using in vitro fertilization, though it can sometimes be performed using tissue from an early pregnancy. With the IVF procedure, the embryo is allowed to grow and multiply for several days, at which time one cell is usually removed for testing. Since most couples have several embryos prepared at a time for IVF, the procedure is performed on each one to determine which have the best chance for producing a healthy baby.

How Much Does Genetic Testing for Embryos Cost?

How much does genetic testing for embryos cost? The average testing costs around $3,000 per cycle. This is in addition to the other costs of IVF, which can reach $12,000. Although that is certainly a lot of money, it may be a worthwhile investment for couples who have had multiple failed attempts at IVF. Since certain diseases increase the chance of miscarriage, genetic testing prior to having the embryos implanted can help increase the likelihood of a full-term pregnancy. It also gives the family a greater peace of mind if they are concerned about inherited diseases that their child could develop.

Since it is not considered a medical requirement, many insurance companies do not provide coverage for genetic testing. The extra cost will often come out of the couple's pocket. Not all fertility clinics offer the testing, so couples who are interested in having it performed should discuss this option early on with their care providers.

Genetic Testing Controversy

Genetic testing is not without its opponents. Some people worry that couples will use the results to choose the gender of their offspring by selecting to implant only those embryos that are either male or female, regardless of any genetic concerns. Others see the technology developing to the point where intelligence, athletic abilities, or physical features like hair color are detected through early testing. This has caused concern that couples will one day be able to create seemingly perfect children while eliminating the possibility of disabilities.

Health advocates are also concerned that such testing sends a message of intolerance to people already born with genetic abnormalities. Since there are many examples of long, productive lives among people with disorders such as Down syndrome, advocates worry that discarding these embryos leads to the elimination of a culture that has valuable contributions to society.

Using the Results of Genetic Testing

Part of the controversy surrounding genetic testing of embryos is that not all diseases and disorders can be detected. Parents might select a seemingly healthy embryo only to learn later that the child has a serious health problem. Recent breakthroughs in genetic testing demonstrate the ability to test for diseases like Alzheimer's or a predisposition to cancer. None of this testing, however, is 100 percent accurate, meaning that numerous embryos could be discarded based on false information or because of the potential for a disease that will not occur until much later in life.

Couples who have been dealing with infertility and are using IVF may not worry about the answer to "how much does genetic testing for embryos cost" since they often want to provide their children with the best opportunity for a long and healthy life. But, it's important to consider how to handle the health information that might be discovered from the testing.

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How Much Does Genetic Testing for Embryos Cost?