In Australia, researchers working in the field of infertility may have recognized a small factor that could measure the health of an embryo before IVF. After fertilization, embryos are observed for proper cell division before being implanted into the uterus. Glucose medium is used to “feed” the embryo during this time. Experts have found that measuring the amount of glucose the embryo consumes by days four and five could help them measure the health of the embryo. More glucose intake = healthier embryo.

The study included 50 women undergoing IVF treatment. Of the 50 treatments, 32 women tested positive for pregnancy and 28 babies were born. All embryos transferred were measured as the healthiest based on glucose consumption. Glucose used in IVF centers is very close to natural human glucose and the 28 resulting births concurred with measurements of the highest glucose consumption by the corresponding embryos.

David Gardner, professor at the University of Melbourne noted, “Previous studies with animals have shown that the healthiest blastocysts are those with the greatest glucose consumption indicating the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.”

In addition to predicting embryo health, researchers believe the gender of an embryo may be associated with glucose consumption as well. Further study will be needed to determine whether embryo gender can be predicted.

About one in six Australian couples have trouble with infertility. IVF treatment centers are hoping glucose measurements will increase the effectiveness of implantation procedures.

Source: Professor David Gardener. University of Melbourne. 13 October, 2010.

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