Aneuploidy is the biggest cause of miscarriage and is more likely to occur in the eggs of older women. The technique, known as array comparative genome hybridisation (CGH), allows scientists to detect chromosomal abnormalities that can be missed under the microscope. Scientists can then transfer the healthiest embryos, increasing the chance of a successful implantation.
An increase in live birth rate of 24.1 percent per embryo transfer was observed in patients undergoing CGH, compared to two groups where the test was not used, where the live birth rate was 16.7 percent and 12.5 percent per embryo transfer. The women involved in the study had a median age of 41 and had all undergone IVF before without success.
Professor Simon Fishel, lead author of the study said: 'We know that chromosome abnormality is a major cause of miscarriage and IVF failure'.
'Some clinics do keep putting patients through repeated IVF cycles when they could actually benefit from this test', he added.
The researchers are hoping that the test, which costs around £2,400, could be put into widespread use for those receiving IVF.
Experts such as Dr Dagan Wells, a senior research fellow in reproductive genetics at the University of Oxford are cautious about overestimating the benefits of this test, but agree that chromosome screening could reduce risks of miscarriage and Down's syndrome.
'The method provides patients with useful information about the number of healthy eggs they produce', said Dr Wells. 'Unfortunately, some will learn that they don't produce any viable eggs. This is a disappointing result, but is still very valuable as it lets them know that IVF is unlikely to work for them, potentially saving them from the heartache, stress and expense of undergoing multiple unsuccessful treatments'.
The study was published in the journal Fertilisation In Vitro.
Sources and References
Assessment of 19,803 Paired Chromosomes and Clinical Outcome from First 150 Cycles using Array CGH of the First Polar Body for Embryo Selection and Transfer
Chromosome test 'boosts IVF chance'