Twin girls born in Germany in June and a boy born in Italy in September are the first deliveries in a pilot study of a technique called comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) by microarray, European scientists said on Friday.
The technique is a new way of screening eggs and embryos for genetic defects to increase the odds a woman achieves a healthy pregnancy from in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), when eggs are fertilised with sperm in a lab dish and implanted into her womb.
The births were part of a “proof of principle” analysis on whether this method of screening of oocytes, or egg cells, and embryos before transfer in IVF can help to increase birth rates.
“We have learnt from more than 30 years of IVF that many of the embryos we transfer have chromosome abnormalities,” Luca Gianaroli, chairman of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and one of the scientists who worked on the study, said in a statement.
Gianaroli said two out of every three embryos implanted by doctors into a woman’s womb during IVF fail to develop into a pregnancy, often because of these abnormalities.
“The whole world of IVF has been trying to find an effective way of screening for these abnormalities for more than a decade,” Gianaroli said. “Now we have a new technology... and our hopes are that this will finally provide a reliable means of assessing the chromosomal status of the embryos we transfer.”
The study was conducted in Bologna, Italy, and Bonn, Germany and designed and organised by the ESHRE to find out the clinical value of CGH.