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Party Time for Children Born Free of Gene Disorders

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All were conceived at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS trust following pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which tests embryos for serious inherited conditions such as cystic fibrosis.

The women being treated undergo IVF before doctors screen the embryos to ensure they implant an unaffected one into the womb.

Kate Harfield, 36, and her husband Richard, 42, had daughter Emily, one, with the help of the PGD team at Guy's. A blood test at the age of 16 confirmed that Mrs Harfield was a carrier for
Fragile X, the most common cause of inherited learning difficulties including autism.

Her brother was affected by the condition and needs special support. Women are unaffected but have a 50 per cent chance of passing the disorder to their sons. Mrs Harfield, from Hampshire, had decided not to have children until she discovered that Guy's and St Thomas' could test for Fragile X.
She said: "Having Emily is a miracle. It took three cycles [of IVF] over two and a half years. I'd actually agreed with my husband that the third cycle would be our last chance, because it's such a physical and emotional strain.

"Only one out of eight eggs survived and that was how we had Emily."
Angelina Rato's daughter Tiana was also conceived through PGD in the hope she would be free from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Mrs Rato, 31, a civil servant from Portsmouth, lost a brother to the disease when he was 14 and has another brother with it. She found out as a teenager that she was a carrier, but says that now, "the disease is no longer in our family".

Guy's and St Thomas' can now use PGD to test for 254 genetic conditions and their pregnancy rate is one for every two women treated. The party, in Lambeth on Sunday, marked the first time so many babies born through PGD were all in one place. The event was organised by Alison Lashwood, a consultant genetic counsellor. She said: "Most of our couples have had a sad and difficult time trying to have healthy children. We support them every step of the way through the preparation and treatment of PGD."

The Guy's fertility unit has enabled at least 300 babies to be born disease-free, more than anywhere else in the UK.