Reproductive Technology Council approves application to determine sex of sperm for high risk families

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Western Australia – The Reproductive Technology Council has approved an application for a family pre-disposed to autism, in a fertility clinic to select the sex in order to minimise the risk of autism.

This controversial issue works under the premise that boys are four times more likely to develop autism and by ensuring the “X” chromosome is in the sperm, a girl will be born.

Chief Medical Officer Garry Geelhoed says the objective is to help families reduce the odds of having another child with autism. He says,

“The complication with autism is that it is a genetic illness in the sense that if you have it in family you are much more likely to have further children with it.

“But there’s no simple test. In this case, the council considers those at risk of having another child, a boy with severe autism, they will use this technique to ensure a healthy girl is born.”

Professor Geelhoed coninues,

“If you have it in the family, and you already have one child with that, some estimates are that chances of the next child if its a boy having autism, the chances can go up 20 times.

“So that’s why families like that in the past may have been considering not having another child.

“Through this process, if you can get another healthy child, in this case a girl, then clearly it’s a good outcome.”

Sources: There have been conflicting reports in relation to whether sex selection will be applied to embryos via  preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) (as reported in both The West Australian and Forbes) or whether sperm will be screened prior to fertilisation (as reported by ABC News).