The Chrissy Teigen backlash
Super couple Chrissy Teigen and singer John Legend have been trying to conceive for several years. Infertility treatments have finally allowed them to carry a so-far successful pregnancy, as well as the added benefit of knowing the baby’s gender in advance. So why is the public railing against the couple’s choice?
What happened here?
Not everyone who undergoes IVF (in vitro fertilization) has the opportunity for gender selection in advance. This is reserved for those who opt for genetic screening, sometimes called CCS (comprehensive chromosomal screening) or PGS (pre-implantation genetic screening). Though these procedures are sometimes used for gender selection or family balancing, the more common use of this strategy is to test the chromosomal makeup of the embryos to determine if a congenital condition or mutation is present or if aneuploidy is present in the embryos – too many, too few, or abnormal chromosomes.
While genetic screening can be implemented at any round of IVF treatment, it is usually used by those who have been through IVF before. The paparazzi have reported on Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s every step through a significant amount of recent fertility treatment, so one can reasonably assume that they wanted the best possible chance for success, and thus decided on genetic screening.
The goal of genetic screening is to choose the healthiest and strongest embryos for implantation on a chromosomal level. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the types of genetic screening available to you.
The process of genetic screening (and gender selection)
Once the embryos are fertilized, they are permitted to grow in specialized media in the embryology lab, under careful watch and controlled conditions. The embryos that continue to grow normally through five or six days will be biopsied and then cryopreserved (frozen) and stored, while the excised cells are sent to the genetics lab for screening. Once the genetic information is determined, the patients and their doctor choose which embryo or embryos should be transferred. Along with the number of chromosomes and/or the information regarding congenital markers, geneticists are able to determine if these embryos are XX (female) or XY (male). These labels are added to the quality grade of the embryos as determined by the embryologist. From here, patients can choose which embryos to use. Normally the healthiest embryo is selected for transfer, regardless of gender, but couples may have the option of gender selection as well. Essentially, however, the goal of all patients undergoing IVF and genetic testing is to have a healthy, viable pregnancy.
The embryos not selected are simply frozen until they are ready to be used.
Teigen clarified via Twitter with the following statement about her revelation of choosing a female embryo for implantation:
“This is all so interesting,” she tweeted. “I said it so casually because I’m just open. I’m around so many open-minded people and forgot it’s controversial. From reading everything tonight, I think I made a mistake in thinking people understood the process better than they do, which is my fault. We didn’t create a little girl. We had multiple embryos; girls and boys. We simply chose to put in a female first and second. We didn’t ‘throw away’ anything and still would love to have more of both in the future.”
For more information about genetic screening and gender selection, click the following links:
- CCS & Genetic Testing
- Sachdev’s blog about Preimplantation Genetic Screening
- Qasim’s blog, “Genetic abnormalities cause the most miscarriages”
For more information about the genetic screening services offered at our center, please call us at 732-339-9300 or contact us online.