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Medical Edge: Designing Your Baby

Updated: Thursday, December 18 2014, 03:49 PM EST
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- A cutting-edge technique could help some couples struggling with infertility.
"Three Parent IVF" is highly controversial and not yet legal in the U.S.  

Nick and Amy Dion finally have little Abigail who is 14-months-old.

But mom Amy Dion admits, "We had a tough time having Abby that's for sure."

After several other fertility techniques didn't result in pregnancy Abby was eventually conceived through in-vitro fertilization, or IVF.  It's where the egg and the sperm are fertilized outside the body and implanted back into the mother.  Doctor Glen Hofmann and Doctor Pradeep Warikoo say for younger women this technique has good success.  But as a woman's age increases, the egg appears to change, raising the risk for serious health concerns in a baby such as Down syndrome.

Now Dr. Warikoo and Dr. Hofmann are among a growing number of medical experts supportive of expanding research on a newer IVF technique aimed at fixing this problem.  It would replace everything but the nucleus, or center of the older woman's egg, with that of a younger donor.  The joint egg is then combined with the father's sperm before it's implanted for pregnancy.

Dr. Hofmann said, "What happens then is you have the genetics of the biologic 39 or 40-year-old mother, the genetics of the father, and you also have the genetics of the mitochondria of the egg donor."

This is commonly referred to as Three Parent IVF and it is quite controversial.  But experts say it opens a door for couples to have healthy children.  The team says if most genetic diseases are passed down through the mother, such as seizures, blindness and deafness, replacing one part of the aging egg could stop that.

The problem?  

Dr. Warikoo said, "We don't know the long-term studies on these possible babies on the adults that would be coming out of this technique because in nature it doesn't happen."

Amy and Nick Dion say exploring new fertility options gave them Abigail
 Amy said, "It's nice to see that people are investing time and money into helping us have our dream."

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