Connor Levy was born in the US in May using a revolutionary IVF technique designed at Oxford University.
His parents had cells from their IVF embryos checked for genetic abnormalities by a specialist in Oxford. This meant that the couple’s doctors in the US were able to select the embryos with the right number of chromosomes, meaning they had a much higher chance of having a healthy baby.
In IVF, a human egg is fertilised with sperm in the laboratory. Only about 30% of fertilised embryos lead to a successful pregnancy.
The reason for failure is partially because of genetic defects.
If there are abnormalities with the chromosomes, most of the embryos will not plant in the womb or the foetus will not reach full term – meaning the pregnancy will miscarry. Those that do survive are born with genetic disorders, such as Down’s Syndrome.
There are abnormalities in a tenth of embryos when a woman is in her twenties, rising to three-quarters by the time a woman reaches her late-thirties and forties.
This new test means that doctors are able to examine the embryos before implantation.
Marybeth Scheidts, 36, and David Levy, 41, had 13 embryos screened. Three of those were healthy. Without the chromosome screening, picking the right embryo would have just been based on luck. Instead, their baby Conor was a result of their first attempt.
This test could save the NHS money, as less IVF attempts may be required.
Dr Michael Glassner, the fertility doctor that treated the couple told The Guardian that these techniques will become more common. “It is hard to overstate how revolutionary this is. This increases pregnancy rates by 50% across the board and reduces miscarriages by a similar margin. It will be much less expensive.
“In five years, this will be state of the art and everyone who comes for IVF will have it.”
Further trials will be carried out before the test will be used as standard.