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Bone marrow transplantation in the prevention of intellectual disability due to inherited metabolic disease: ethical issues


Many inherited metabolic diseases may lead to varying degrees of brain damage and thus also to intellectual disability. Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) has been used for over two decades as a form of secondary prevention to stop or reverse the progress of the disease process in some of these conditions. At the population level the impact of BMT on the prevalence of intellectual disability is minute, but at the individual level its impact on the prognosis of the disease and the well-being of the patient can be substantial. The dark side of BMT use is the burden of side effects, complications and transplantation-related mortality in less successful cases. The ethical issues involved in this therapy are discussed in this review.

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