NHGRI Long-Range Planning - Comments

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Comments on "Revised White Paper #4: The Future of Genome Sequencing"

The biggest health problem in the United States and the entire developed world is now infertility. It has been decades since the developed world could produce enough babies to survive. A study done in Iceland (An Association Between Kinship And Fertility of Human Couples. Agnar Heigason, Snaebjoern Palsson, Daniel F. Guobjartsson, Pordur Kristjansson and Karl Stefanson, SCIENCE vol 329 8 February 2008) has shown unequivocally that the major determinate of fertility is the kinship between members of a couple. A glance at their results shows that the primary problem right now is that in the developed world almost no couples are sufficiently related to permit normal fertility. There is copious supporting evidence at nobabies.net but the study needs no support.
The findings of the study are not generally applicable since no other population has the genealogical data Iceland has. But the same information could be obtained by comparing the genomes of the prospective couples. All that is needed is a test of sufficient power to determine consanguinity out to sixth cousin within two standard deviations. I suspect that the issue is how closely non-coding repeats match, but that is not critical. What is critical is comparing consanguinity as measured by the test against proven fertility. Once that relationship is clear, then it will be possible to match donor with recipient for assisted pregnancy and even to council prospective couples about their expected fertility. It sounds weird, but it makes more sense than astrological signs.

(262) Thursday, May 7, 2009 8:58 AM

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