Maryse Bonduelle Team

Follow-up of children born after assisted reproductive technology

PGD and its influence on children and their parents

Principal Investigators:Julie Nekkebroeck

Researcher:Christiane Winter

Follow-up of PGD children and their families at preschool age

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) allows to determine specific monogenic defects, chromosomal imbalances and the gender of the embryo. PGD is a more invasive technique compared to ICSI and regular IVF and could induce potential risks for the children. Even though first results on 2-year- old PGD children are reassuring, further research on key points of the development of PGD children and their parents is needed to control for long term effects.

Research questions to be answered

  • Do 5 -6 year old PGD children develop in the same way for cognitive and motor functioning?
  • Is the socio-emotional development of PGD children comparable to ICSI children and spontaneous conceived controls (SC)?
  • Do parents in the three groups differ regarding the way they experience stress from parenting, do they have different vulnerabilities?


  • No differences were found between PGD children and controls regarding their cognitive development and their motor capacities at the age of 5.
  • Regarding their social-emotional development and family functioning PGD children/families were very much comparable to ICSI and SC children/families.
  • PGD and ICSI mothers experienced less stress than mothers of SC children. PGD / ICSI mothers felt more competent and were more goal directed.

Pregnancy and the early postpartum period after PGD, stress, attachment and coping

Getting pregnant is not that evident for couples with a history of genetic diseases in the family, therefore a second research line focuses on the transition to parenthood of couples using PGD or ICSI comparing to spontaneous conceiving controls.

Research questions to be answered

  • Do PGD couples differ in their experience of stress (depression, pregnancy specific anxiety) during pregnancy?
  • Do conception groups differ in their attachment to the fetus and the baby?
  • If there were group differences, do factors such as personality, attachment in partner relationship, attachment to ones’ own parents, idealization of parenthood, coping and life satisfaction function as moderators ?

Currently these comparative studies are taking place at the Centre for Medical Genetics and the Centre for Reproductive Medicine of the UZ Brussel as a part of an OZR project.

Publication of this study is expected for 2016.


Winter C, Van Acker F, Bonduelle M, Desmyttere S, Nekkebroeck J. Psychosocial development of full term singletons, born after preimplantation genetic diagnosis 5PGD) at preschool age and family functioning: a prospective case-controlled study and multi-informant approach. Hum Reprod. 2015 March; 0 (0), 1-15. Doi: 10/1093/humrep/dev036

In I.L. van Kamp, M. L. Lambregtse-van den Berg en J. M.B. Wennink.(2015) Handboek psychiatrie en zwangerschap. Winter C, Nekkebroeck J. Van Kamp IL Hoofdstuk 29 Infertiliteit en geassisteerde bevruchting (p 305-309). De Tijdstroom. Utrecht.

Winter C, Van Acker F, Desmyttere S, De Schrijver F, Bonduelle M, Nekkebroeck J. Cognitive and psychomotor development of 5 to 6 -year-old singletons born after preimplantation genetic diagnosis; a prospective case-controlled matched study. Hum Reprod. 2014 Sep;29(9):1968-77. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deu165.

Winter C, Van Acker F, Desmyttere S, De Schrijver F, Bonduelle M, Nekkebroeck J. (2012) Cognitive and motor development of 5-6 year old PGD children and their perceptions of their families. Human Reproduction 27 (suppl 2): ii273-ii285.doi: 10.1093/humrep/27.s2.86 (P-426).

Winter, C., Belva F, Nekkebroeck J, Bonduelle M. (2011). Do ICSI adolescents encounter psychological problems? Human Reproduction 26 (suppl 1): i260-i271 Doi:10.1093/humrep/26.s1.87, (P-373).

Winter C.: De primaire triade, Een systemische visie op het samenspel tussen ouders en kinderen in jonge gezinnen. Een studiedag met Elisabeth Fivaz-Depeursinge, UC Kortenberg 28/10/2011, published by Systeem theoretisch Bulletin 9/2012.

PhD thesis

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and its influence on children and their parents

Promotor: J. Nekkebroeck. Copromotor: M. Bonduelle

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