Problems with using polygenic scores to select embryos

Patrick Turley, Michelle N. Meyer, Nancy Wang, David Cesarini, Evelynn Hammonds, Alicia R. Martin, Benjamin M. Neale, Heidi L. Rehm, Louise Wilkins-Haug, Daniel J. Benjamin, Steven Hyman, David Laibson, Peter M. Visscher

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Companies have recently begun to sell a new service to patients considering in vitro fertilization: embryo selection based on polygenic scores (ESPS). These scores represent individualized predictions of health and other outcomes derived from genomewide association studies in adults to partially predict these outcomes. This article includes a discussion of many factors that lower the predictive power of polygenic scores in the context of embryo selection and quantifies these effects for a variety of clinical and nonclinical traits. Also discussed are potential unintended consequences of ESPS (including selecting for adverse traits, altering population demographics, exacerbating inequalities in society, and devaluing certain traits). Recommendations for the responsible communication about ESPS by practitioners are provided, and a call for a society-wide conversation about this technology is made. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others.).

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)78-86
    Number of pages9
    JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Medicine


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