Blurring boundaries. Interviews with PGT couples about comprehensive chromosome screening

Kristien Hens*, Maryse Bonduelle, Christine de Die-Smulders, Inge Liebaers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Comprehensive chromosome examination is a promising approach to Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT). Next to testing of specific chromosomes, such as in the case of reduced fertility due to chromosomal translocations, it allows testing of all chromosomes. Hence it potentially reduces the time to pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage. But comprehensive testing also introduces some ethical issues. For example, what is the role of the professional in the decision making regarding embryos with chromosomal abnormalities that are potentially viable? Which chromosomal abnormalities should be communicated to people undergoing fertility treatment? With this paper we wanted to explore the ethical issues related to comprehensive chromosome screening in Preimplantation Genetic Testing.

Design: In order to explore these issues, we interviewed seven couples undergoing PGT for chromosomal translocations at the VUB University Hospital, Belgium. We presented them with three fictional cases: the transfer of an embryo with trisomy 21, of an embryo with a sex chromosome aneuploidy and of an embryo with a chromosomal microdeletion.

Results: We found that opinions regarding the role of fertility professionals in deciding which embryos to transfer were mixed. Moreover, where to draw the line between healthy and unhealthy embryos was unclear. We also found that couples, although they thought that comprehensive chromosome testing had certain benefits, also considered the increased waiting time for transfer a heavy burden.

Conclusions: In the light of comprehensive chromosome screening of embryos, persons undergoing fertility treatment may have views on the burdens and benefits of the techniques that are not analogous to the views of professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103604
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Medical Genetics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Preimplantation genetic testing
  • Ethics
  • Qualitative research
  • Comprehensive chromosome screening

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