More S'poreans going abroad for IVF to choose baby's gender

More and more Singaporeans are heading overseas for medical procedures which allow them to choose their babies' gender.

According to The Straits Times, foreign destinations such as the United States, and increasingly Thailand, let parents choose the gender of their babies through a procedure known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which is banned in Singapore.

These places are also well-known for their skills in in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Having sons important for people of Chinese ancestry

The managing director of Marvel IVF Solutions, an IVF facility in Bangkok, said 90 per cent of Singaporeans, Chinese nationals and Hong Kongers ask for boys.

That is because males are seen as heirs and capable of taking care of their siblings, the director said.

Other facilities such as Safe Fertility and PGD Centre in Bangkok and Fertility Institutes in Los Angeles also saw the same requests by Singaporean patrons, according to The Straits Times.

Embryos screened for gender or genetic diseases or both

PGD is carried out with IVF treatment and the embryos are screened for gender or genetic diseases or both, during the procedure.

The desired embryos are then transferred to the mother's womb.

The clinics told The Straits Times that the sex selection procedure is almost 100 per cent accurate.

Marvel IVF Solutions charges 280,000 baht ($11,380) for one cycle of IVF treatment, including PGD. Safe Fertility charges 260,000 baht while Fertility Institutes charges US$18,000 (S$22,000).

In Singapore, it costs between $8,000 and $11,000 for one cycle of IVF treatment at public hospitals. It costs up to $15,000 at private centres.

Choosing a baby's gender using PGD is banned in Singapore. PGD is only used when a doctor deems it necessary for screening genetic diseases such as Down, Edwards and Turner syndromes.

paullim@sph.com.sg