A couple are celebrating the birth of a child after using a new embryonic screening technique.
The baby is the first to be born in Ireland using the technique, which offers hope to women who have had repeated miscarriages or have gone through several unsuccessful cycles of IVF treatment.
The baby girl was born at Cork University Maternity Hospital two weeks ago, after the couple underwent successful preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) with IVF treatment at the Cork Fertility Centre earlier this year.
Dr John Waterstone, medical director of the Cork Fertility Centre,said: "This breakthrough will provide vital information to thousands of Irish couples who have endured multiple miscarriages, or failed IVF treatments."
Dr Waterstone said that 20 per cent of pregnancies result in miscarriage and in most cases no explanation is ever found.
“However, research indicates that at least 50 per cent of miscarriages are caused by chromosome abnormalities.
“This uncertainty is particularly upsetting for couples who have suffered recurrent miscarriage.
“Around one in every hundred women will have recurrent miscarriages.”
Dr Waterstone explained that PGS is different to preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which has been used by clients of the clinic to avoid having babies with certain genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell disease and muscular dystrophy.
He said that PGDis the screening of embryos for a specific genetic condition so that parents at risk of passing on the condition to their children can avoid doing so.
The PGD process involves generating a number of embryos through IVF and then examining the genes of these embryos.
An embryo that is free from the genetic condition is then selected and transferred to the woman’s uterus.
Dr Waterstone said that, in contrast, PGS involves examining IVF-generated embryos to see if they have the correct number and structure of chromosomes.
“An embryo with the normal structure and number of chromosomes will be selected and transferred to the woman’s uterus.
“This significantly increases the chance of a successful pregnancy and reduces the risk of miscarriage,” he said.
Dr Waterstone explained that the child’s mother and her partner were recommended for the treatment after a number of unsuccessful cycles of IVF treatment at the clinic.
“We are all delighted that PGS has helped this couple to become parents. PGS is a significant development that provides real information to couples who have endured the heartbreak of repeated miscarriages, or failed IVF cycles, without getting any answers.
“Through PGS, we can provide an extra level of information on the true potential of an embryo.”