New genetic screening tests are improving the pregnancy rate of couples going through in vitro fertilization.
Robbie Schuler was married two years when she and her husband decided they were ready to start a family. But after tests were taken, they were told they could only conceive through in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Schuler said that after a year and a half and two rounds of treatment, "My husband and I had tried for several months to get pregnant and we were finding that we weren't successful." She continued saying, "It worked. It worked very well, which was great because I wound up getting pregnant with twins."
However, in her 23rd week Robbie went into labor and only one of her twin girls survived. Today, her six year old, Heather, still shows signs of her early entry into the world. She has vision problems that were caused by her early delivery.
Now science may be one step closer to providing the best start for babies conceived through IVF. Researchers have developed a way to evaluate the full genetic make-up of an embryo before it is implanted.
Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Richard Scott says, "We believe the most limiting step in an embryo becoming a baby is whether is has the right genetic compliment; whether it is the right total amount of material. So if we can diagnose that before we put the embryo back it should raise pregnancy rates."
By identifying which embryos are likely to succeed researchers believe miscarriage will be less likely. They say identifying the healthiest embryo may also eliminate the need to implant several embryos.
Dr. Scott agrees saying, "By putting fewer embryos back you have fewer twins and that should greatly reduce the risk for prematurity to couples that have a tough time conceiving."
Here's how it works:
First a cell is taken from the embryo.
Then the DNA is amplified a million fold so that it can be analyzed.
The data then allows researchers to determine the number of chromosomes on that single cell.
Researcher Dr. Nathan Treff says, "Now we can look at all 23 where previously we could only look at less
than half of the chromosomes."
This technology won't be available for some time, but Robbie says she hopes it will help couples avoid what happen to her.
Mother, Robbie Schuler says, "Would I have chosen it if it would have prevented what happen to me? Yeah. Yes."