Breakthrough for IVF egg-screening technique

Woman gives birth after years of trying thanks to pioneering method

A 41-year-old woman with a history of miscarriages and 13 failed cycles of IVF treatment has given birth to a baby through a pioneering egg-screening technique.

Oliver – who did not seem to be taking the news calmly, judging by pictures released yesterday – is the first human to have been genetically screened before conception. Fertility doctors examined the eggs to be used during IVF to find the most suitable ones – a procedure they claim can double the chances of conception. Specialists say that it is a fast and accurate method of detecting changes to the 23 pairs of chromosomes within the human egg that are implicated in miscarriages and birth defects.

Doctors had said that the woman's chance of having a baby was less than 7 per cent, even without taking into account her history of failed IVF attempts. The new chromosome test showed that only two of her eight eggs were normal. After being fertilised, one was implanted into her womb and she became pregnant with Oliver. He was born in July. His parents have decided that the family should remain anonymous.

"Chromosomal abnormality plays a major part in the failure to establish a pregnancy," said Professor Simon Fishel, managing director of the Care Fertility Group, which pioneered the technique. "Full chromosome analysis may double the chance of success in couples who have a poor chance of conceiving or a history of failed treatments and miscarriage and maximise the chance of pregnancy in all couples."

The professor explained that about half the eggs in younger women and up to 75 per cent in women over 39 have abnormal chromosomes. The procedure, which was developed in Britain, can be performed in less than 48 hours, meaning that the IVF embryos do not need to be frozen before implantation. It costs £1,950 and cannot be done on the NHS.

Professor Fishel said he believed it would one day be possible for the treatment to be incorporated into the NHS's IVF treatment programme. "At the moment it is very expensive to produce the DNA chips we require to carry out the procedure," he said. "But once those chips are mass-produced then we could be talking about a few hundred pounds, rather than nearly £2,000. In that case the treatment could be considered – but it will be a long time before we are in that position."

The world's first IVF baby was born in 1978. Professor Fishel said that improving the success of fertility treatment had been a personal quest. "All the team at Care have been waiting for this very special baby to be born," he said. "I have been involved in many exciting developments in reproductive medicine. Oliver's birth is an important landmark in shaping our understanding of why many women fail to become pregnant."

Professor Fishel said there was a fine line between maximising the number of pregnancies achieved by IVF treatment and minimising the number of multiple births, which are often considered undesirable because of potential complications during pregnancy.

"We need to be able to choose objectively which eggs to use. If there are 10, it is no use maximising the chances of success by using them all because, at the same time, we want to avoid potentially difficult multiple pregnancies," he said. "By making it possible to select the most suitable, we have made it possible to make that objective choice."

He added: "In the case of Oliver, only two of the eight eggs we had were chromosomally normal and we were able to make the right choice. What we want is the maximum rate of conception with the minimum rate of multiple pregnancy: one egg, one pregnancy."

Suggested Topics
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas