First babies due for new IVF system
Three British women in their late 30s are due to give birth before Christmas after helping to pioneer a new IVF technique described as the "ultimate screening test".
Theirs are the first successful pregnancies in Europe to be achieved as a result of the procedure, which looks for abnormalities in cells taken from tiny five-day-old embryos.
Blastocyst Chromosome Screening (BCS) can spot chromosomal mistakes in outwardly normal-looking embryos that may prevent pregnancies or lead to miscarriages.
Evidence from the United States suggests the procedure can boost the chances of a viable pregnancy after In-Vitro Fertilisation from around 35% to 75%.
The women are taking part in a year-long trial conducted by fertility specialist CARE at its Manchester clinic.
All three are aged between 37 and 40 and have a history of failed IVF.
BCS involves extracting up to 10 cells from a specific part of the blastocyst, a micro-sized embryo no larger than a pinhead, using state-of-the-art technology.
The cells are then analysed to check all their chromosomes - the cell structures that package DNA - for major abnormalities.
Only embryos that pass the test are implanted into a patient's womb.
A unique feature of the process is that it can tell whether the mother or father has passed on an abnormality.