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Release:Nov. 26, 2002

UI Health Care provides genetic screening for couples

Infertility treatment specialists with the University of Iowa Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology today announced the first couple at UI Hospitals and Clinics to receive genetic screening of their embryos is expecting a baby.

The procedure is called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). The technique was introduced in the early 1990s, and an estimated 1,000 babies around the world have been born following PGD.

The method appealed to Nami and Corey Stone of Coralville. Each of them lost a sibling due to a genetic disorder called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which affects cells in the spinal cord and can interfere with the muscles involved with walking, head and neck control, and swallowing. As carriers of the defective gene that causes SMA, they faced a one in four risk of giving birth to a child who would be affected by the disorder.

The Stones were also experiencing difficulty conceiving a child. They consulted Brad Van Voorhis, M.D., Craig Syrop, M.D., and Amy Sparks, Ph.D., in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at UI Hospitals and Clinics. The couple elected to receive in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. The IVF technique combines sperm and eggs to create embryos.

The couple's embryos were then biopsied, and the samples were shipped to a lab at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. for genetic testing. Specialists determined which embryos were affected by the SMA mutation. Two unaffected embryos were transferred into Nami Stone in July 2002. One successfully implanted, and the couple is expecting their first child in April 2003. They now face a much lower risk that their baby will develop SMA.

A handful of U.S. infertility treatment centers offer PGD, and about 50 worldwide perform the technique. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and the embryo biopsy add about $6,000 to the cost of in vitro fertilization, which can cost between $6,000 and $12,000. PGD and embryo biopsies are not usually covered by insurance.

For more information about pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and infertility treatment, call the UI Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at (319) 356-8483 or visit them online at

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at