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
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Technician

    £20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...

    Recruitment Genius: Contact Centre Team Manager

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is the UK's leading...

    Recruitment Genius: Shunter / HGV Driver

    £23172 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading and fastest growing h...

    Recruitment Genius: Property Manager / Estate Manager

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an experienced Resident...

    Day In a Page

    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate