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Time-lapse video to improve IVF success

Taking thousands of pictures of developing embryos may increase the success rate of IVF, according to a small UK study
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
microscopic view of ivf

17th May 2013 - One of the greatest challenges in IVF assisted reproduction is to identify an embryo which can develop successfully.

CARE Fertility in Nottingham has published a study into the use of time-lapse photography in the first five days of an embryo's development outside the womb. It believes the technology will increase the chances of identifying embryos with the highest chance of resulting in a live birth.

Clare Lewis-Jones, chief executive of the charity Infertility Network UK told us by email: "We welcome medical advances which may increase a patient’s success. It is vital that research such as this continues to take place and hopefully improve people’s chances of having a family."

How does time-lapse video help?

The majority of embryos that fail to initiate a pregnancy do so because they have the incorrect number of chromosomes. A healthy human embryo should contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, but about half have abnormalities..

However, abnormal embryos can't be recognised by embryologists using conventional microscopes, currently only biopsy of the early embryo followed by preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) can establish whether the number of chromosomes is normal or not.

Time-lapse video has allowed researchers to analyse the first five days of an embryo's development after IVF using thousands of images. They claim to have demonstrated, as far as is known for the first time, that embryos with the incorrect number of chromosomes are slower to develop.

Lead author, Alison Campbell, says in a press release: "This non-invasive model for the classification of chromosomal abnormality may be used to avoid selecting embryos with high risk of aneuploidy [abnormal chromosome numbers] while selecting those with reduced risk."

She says it will make a significant difference to patient's chances of pregnancy.

Around a quarter of IVF embryos implanted into women in the UK lead to live births. The outcome varies depending on the type of fertility problem involved and the age of the woman.

The time-lapse video study has been published in Reproductive BioMedicine Online.

Reviewed on May 17, 2013

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