Comprehensive chromosomal screening: improving IVF success

I have met many women who have coped with failed IVF cycles. Even with the amazing science and technology now at their disposal, fertility doctors are still limited by the biology of having sperm, eggs and embryos balance perfectly to miraculously create a healthy child (science can’t do everything!). But there is new technology on the horizon that may help.

In IVF, not all eggs fertilize and not all embryos will develop. So it takes intelligent work on the part of doctors, embryologists, and other clinical staff to determine which embryos might have the highest likelihood of establishing a successful pregnancy. “How an embryo looks” (morphology) has been the standard bearer thus far. This is why choosing the highest quality clinic with skilled technicians is important.

Researchers at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine and Reproductive Associates of New Jersey have developed a technique to examine embryos for the chromosomal problems that account for nearly 70 percent of first trimester pregnancy loss.

Using Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening (CCS), after embryos reached the blastocyst stage (100 cells), a biopsy was taken from the top layer of cells and its chromosomes were examined. All the embryos were frozen, and the ones found to be chromosomally healthy were warmed and transferred into the woman with the goal of implantation, gestation and delivery of a healthy baby.

The researchers compared patients using CCS with a group of similar patients using traditional methods. They found that CCS patients had significantly higher rates of success, especially for older women, for whom chromosomal problems are more likely.

A next step will be to create large-scale trials, including data from birth incomes, said Linda Giudice, MD, PhD, President-elect of the ASRM.

For United States numbers on the success rates of IVF, click here.

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