September 2, 2009

First Child Born Using New Egg-Screening Method

Scientists in Britain have announced the birth of the first baby using a new egg-screening method intended to help women who are unable to conceive using in vitro fertilization (IVF).

His name is Oliver, and his 41-year-old mother had undergone 13 failed IVF attempts, but thanks to the new technique, she was finally able to conceive.

Scientists have named the procedure array comparative genomic hybridization, or CGH. The procedure was created in Nottingham.

CGH is a process by which experts can analyze the number of chromosomes within eggs, which gives would-be mothers a greater chance of giving birth even when IVF treatments have failed them.

"Chromosomal abnormality plays a major part in the failure to establish a pregnancy," Simon Fishel, managing director of the CARE Fertility Group, told AFP.

"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," he said.

Fishel added that the method also helps experts screen against birth defects while reducing the likelihood of miscarriages and multiple pregnancies, both of which are potential problems that arise in IVF treatment.

With Oliver, experts tested eight eggs, and found that just two were chromosomally normal, one of which was used to give birth to the newborn child.

About two of every three women experience failures with IVF techniques due to chromosomal abnormalities with eggs.

"All the team have been waiting for this very special baby to be born," Fishel told BBC Health.

"Oliver's birth is an important landmark in shaping our understanding of why many women fail to become pregnant."

"Up to half of the eggs in younger women and up to 75% in women over 39 are chromosomally abnormal."

"Clearly this is very early days, and our optimism needs to be tempered with caution until we have more evidence of the technique's safety and effectiveness," Stuart Lavery, a consultant gynecologist and director of IVF at Hammersmith Hospital in London, told BBC News.

"My own unit at the Hammersmith has recently been given an HFEA license for microarray CGH and we look forward to contributing to this promising new field."


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