For immediate release
September 29, 1998


NPR REPORTS ON PROCEDURE THAT ENABLES DOCTORS TO IDENTIFY GENETIC DISEASES BEFORE PREGNANCY
Joe Palca Follows Couple Through Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis


WASHINGTON, D.C. - On tonight's All Things Considered®, NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca reports on a new procedure called preimplantation genetic diagnosis. This procedure enables doctors to detect genetic diseases before pregnancy even begins. Until now, women who want to determine whether their fetus has a genetic abnormality have had to rely on tests like amniocentesis, performed many weeks after conception. So far, the test has been used by couples seeking to screen out diseases like Tay-Sachs and sickle cell anemia.

In Palca's report, he follows a couple who has already had one child with cystic fibrosis - the couple wants to keep from having a second child with the disease. Geneticists say the test might one day be used for more common conditions such as cancer and heart disease, which raise certain ethical concerns. You can listen to the report in RealAudio.

Tapes and transcripts are available at 1-888-NPR-News.

National Public Radio, a membership organization of 600 public radio stations nationwide, produces and distributes the award-winning programs Morning Edition®, All Things Considered®, Talk of the Nation®, Weekend Edition® and NPR's Performance Today®.