Latest update: 04/05/2017

PGD: what: why and for whom?

If you want children and also have a genetic disorder, you can approach UZ Brussel for special treatment: PGD or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

PGD means that embryos obtained via in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are diagnosed genetically first and only then transfered to the uterus.

UZ Brussel Expertise in PGD

The very first PGD was performed in 1990 in Great Britain. Since then PGD has been used in specialised centres around the world.
Since 1993 it has also been performed at UZ Brussel.
In the meantime our PGD clinic has expanded to become one of the leading centres in Europe.

Regarding scientific research into children born of PGD treatment, UZ Brussel is also at the absolute top: as one of the few centres in the world we have consistently monitored all babies that we have helped set foot in the world via this treatment. For the PGD clinic this postnatal follow-up is an indissoluble part of the treatment.


Why PGD?

PGD can be regarded as a very early prenatal diagnosis.
If you run the risk of passing on a hereditary disorder to your child(ren), you can find out by an invasive prenatal test (chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis, umbilical cord blood sampling) whether the foetus has inherited the disorder. These tests are invasive meaning they take material (tissue or fluid) from the fetus, uterus or placenta.
In PGD that diagnosis is not obtained during the pregnancy, but with the embryos grown in vitro, before one (or more) of them are implanted in the uterus.
In other words you get the chance of becoming pregnant without the future baby inheriting the genetic abnormality. By doing it this way you can avoid the difficult decision of whether to terminate the pregnancy.


  • A PGD test may be intended to find an abnormality at the chromosomal level (number and structure) or in a single gene (in monogenic disorders). The aim is to find out which embryos are affected and which are not: we only return the unaffected ones to the uterus.
  • In an X-linked disorder (where boys are at high risk of developing the disease) the PGD test is used in certain cases to determine the gender of the embryos. In this way you may be able to avoid having a boy with the disease.
  • There is also a special PGD test which is used to determine the embryo's tissue type, also known as HLA typing. The reason for this is to ascertain which embryos have the same tissue type as an existing sick child from the same parents. Children with some (fatal) blood or immune system diseases can sometimes be healed thanks to transplantation of stem cells from blood or bone marrow cells. This can only be done if the transplanted cells are HLA-compatible with the sick child's cells, since otherwise they will be rejected.
    In other words a baby born as a result of IVF/ICSI treatment with HLA typing done by PGD can be a donor to save a sick brother or sister. These babies are also referred to in the media as 'saviour babies' or 'donor babies'.

Read more about the different types of PGD tests in the PGD laboratory.