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Attitudes to prenatal and preimplantation diagnosis in Saudi parents at genetic risk

Authors: Ayman Alsulaiman and J. Hewison

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Background Prenatal diagnosis (PND) is only available for severe abnormality in Saudi Arabia, and
preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has been proposed as a valuable alternative. The acceptability of
PGD is unexplored, and may ultimately determine the value of this technology in Saudi Arabia. This study
reports attitudes towards PND and PGD of Saudi couples offered genetic counselling following the birth of a
child with a single gene or chromosomal condition.
Methods Thirty couples attending the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh were
interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. One couple had previous experience of PND and none had
experience of PGD or IVF.
Results Eight of the 30 couples (27%) would only accept PGD; four (13%) only PND; three (10%) either
technology; the remainder would accept neither test, or were unsure. The main concerns of those who would
accept neither technology were related to personal religious views. Specific concerns about PGD related to
the IVF procedure, the risk of multiple pregnancies, the chance of mistakes and the chance of not getting
pregnant. A high proportion of couples (six out of seven; 86%) who had a child with thalassaemia expressed
interest in PGD, and all would be prepared to use technology to avoid having an affected child. Views were
more mixed for the other conditions.
Conclusion PGD is acceptable to many couples and for some, it represents a valuable alternative to PND.
However, parents’ concerns are complex, and the acceptability of different reproductive technologies must be
established on an individual basis.