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Baby Biagio is the First Child in Britain Through New Chromosome Screening Technique | CBME, Shanghai Children Baby Maternity Industry Expo, NECC, Baby market news

Meet Biagio Russu, the first baby born in Britain using a ground-breaking embryo screening technique which could hugely improve fertility rates for couples using IVF.

Ewa Wybacz, 36 and Sergio Russu, 42, from Oxford turned to fertility treatment after years of failing to conceive naturally.

They were the first couple in the UK to be offered Next Generation Sequencing, a genetic test which checks for the correct number of chromosomes in fertilised eggs to find out which are the healthiest, and have the highest chance of success.

More than fifty percent of embryos do not have the right number of chromosomes needed for a successful pregnancy, a problem which accounts for almost three quarters of miscarriages. Chromosomal abnormalities can also lead to genetic conditions, such as Down’s Syndrome.  

The technique allowed specialists at Oxford Fertility to see that although the couple produced ten embryos during IVF, only three had a normal set of chromosomes in their cells.

Usually, fewer than one in three IVF pregnancies are successful, but using the new technique Ms Wybacz became pregnant immediately, and in January Biagio was born. Usually embryos are selected based only their appearance and how well they are seen to develop in the days before implantation.

The chances of a pregnancy after IVF treatment can be bolstered by transferring two embryos, but this greatly increases the chance of multiple births and a high risk pregnancy and the fertility regulator recently warned clinics not to risk.

Tim Child, Associate Professor, University of Oxford and Medical Director, Oxford Fertility said “I think it is important because we can move away from putting back embryos, crossing our fingers and hoping that they are genetically normal. This way we can maximise the success of having a child.

“It also stops couples spending a lot of money freezing eggs which will never work.

"It’s interesting that the ratio of viable and non-viable embryos in this case is the same ratio that we see for IVF pregnancies."

Mr Russu, a scientist who now lives in Swindon with Ms Wybacz, housekeeper at Mansfield College, Oxford, said they were hoping for a larger family one day.  The couple have frozen the other two embryos which were found to be healthy through screening.

“My wife had been told that she would never be able to have any children because of scarring from an appendicitis operation and a bust ovarian cyst nearly cost her Ewa her life,” said Mr Russu.

“For that reason we never used contraception, but we still never became pregnant.

“We decided to try with IVF and when doctors ran tests they actually couldn’t find a reason why we weren’t getting pregnant. So they offered us this new screening technique. We were warned about the low chance of success but Ewa became pregnant straight away and everything went exactly to plan.

“Biagio is healthy and beautiful and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. He is a very happy baby. And it is good to know that we still have embryos that we can use if we want to extend the family. I do feel very lucky.”

The couple are forming part of an ongoing trial to rate the effectiveness of the new screening technique.

Dagan Wells, Associate Professor, University of Oxford said “New genetic tests have huge potential for improving fertility treatments.

“Our aim is to bring these tests within reach of all patients undergoing IVF, not only the wealthy.  We are delighted to be able to make Next Generation Sequencing available to infertile couples throughout the UK.

“It is gratifying to see that spirit of scientific innovation that led to the development of IVF in this country is still alive, well and continuing to benefit patients.” 

resource: telegraph