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Cancer screened baby birth 'imminent'

A British baby screened for breast cancer is due to be born this week.
The first British baby to be screened for breast cancer is due to be born this week.

Doctors were asked by the parents to screen the unborn child for an altered gene that had caused breast cancer in three generations of women on the father's side.

His grandmother, mother and sister were all diagnosed in their 20s, so the couple were keen to eradicate the risk of their daughter continuing the genetic fault, known as BRCA1.

Doctors estimate that a girl born with the altered gene would have a 50 per cent to 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer.

Dr Paul Serhal, of University College Hospital, used a technique called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to screen embryos during IVF and ensure that it is free of the mutated gene.

Dr Serhal said: "The whole objective of this exercise is not just to make sure the child doesn't have the gene, but to stop the transmission from generation to generation."

The parents, a 27-year-old woman and her husband, have opted to remain anonymous. They do not yet know whether they will have a girl or a boy.

Although a son may not have contracted breast cancer himself, he could have carried the gene.

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