December 16, 2010
Channel 9 News
By: Dan Weaver & John Torres, MD
EVERGREEN – As a woman in her late 30s, Valerie Simpson didn’t think she would ever be a mother. After a pregnancy ended in a stillbirth, she was certain she wanted to try and visited a fertility doctor at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine.
“[The doctor] definitely thought I could get pregnant,” Simpson said. “At my age, timing was of the essence, and so we needed to get started right away.”
Simpson, her husband and their doctor decided to use in vitro fertilization, and they got eight embryos. Their doctor then decided to use a new technique to test the health of each embryo before implanting one.
“We had eight embryos that were tested, and seven of them were bad,” Simpson said. “Had they put in any of those other seven, we would have had another loss.”
Dr. William Schoolcraft from CCRM says a woman’s eggs age as she gets older and this can lead to problems in the embryos, especially when the woman is at least 38-years-old.
“There’s 46 chromosomes,” Schoolcraft said, “and when there’s too many or too few, those embryos usually have lethal genetic errors and are not compatible with life. So, either those embryos won’t implant, or they’ll miscarry but not lead to a healthy child.”
CCRM is using a procedure that examines a cell from a five-day-old embryo, and this shows the chromosomal makeup of the entire embryo. Doctors will only implant healthy embryos.
“We found in our study that women up through 42 have no decrease in their pregnancy rate if we correct for these chromosomal errors through testing,” Schoolcraft said.
Simpson’s doctor implanted her one healthy embryo, and now Simpson’s son, Adrian, is 7 months old.
“We’re very glad that they were able to do this genetic testing and find out we had one chromosomally normal embryo, and here he is!” Simpson said while playing with Adrian at her Evergreen home.