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Former IVF baby warns of "three parent" IVF dangers

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A former IVF baby has spoken out against the dangers of "three parent" IVF treatment.

Jessica Cussins was conceived using IVF techniques and now works for the Centre for Genetics and Society. She believes that mitochondrial replacement or “three-parent IVF” has troubling implications:

“This would make genetic changes to IVF embryos and thus to every cell of the children born as a result of it. And these changes would be passed down to future generations.

“Human inheritable genetic modification of this kind is currently prohibited in over 40 countries and by several international agreements due to numerous problems and concerns.

“But proposals that would break this long-respected international consensus are now under consideration in the United Kingdom and the United States.”


Ms Cussins, a graduate from UC Berkeley in California, says the treatment hides a number of safety, social and ethical issues:

“Unfortunately for the families whose hopes have been raised, the feel-good story of a ‘life-saving treatment’ covers up critical safety and efficacy problems, and hugely important social and ethical considerations.

“On the safety front, there are a number of concerns for the women involved. The raw material needed for this experiment - women's eggs - would have to be extracted from at least two different women.

“The low success rate shown in research studies suggests that many eggs would be needed - more than in traditional IVF or egg donation. The process of extracting large numbers of eggs is both painful and time consuming, and carries short and long-term health risks.

“There are also profoundly worrying safety and efficacy concerns for any resulting children, which a growing number of scientists are speaking up about.

“There are larger social and ethical considerations that mitochondrial replacement also forces us to confront. Most importantly, this technology raises one of the thorniest questions humanity will ever face: are we willing to genetically modify future generations of humans?”

“Appalling” proposal

Josephine Quintavelle Co-Founder of the London-based Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) agrees with Jessica’s concerns:

“How clearly Jessica Cussins underlines the fact that the creation of three parent embryos is not just another version of IVF.  She spotlights eloquently the multiple dangers, ethical and scientific, underlining why we should never, never go down such a dangerous path.

“Ms Cussins' powerful article should be circulated widely. This very week we have had intimation from Parliament that there may be a further consultation on the 3-parent embryo controversy.  It is again time to raise our voices against this appalling scientific proposal.”


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