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Health Insight October 2002: More IVF news

  An IVF test, which screens out embryos that have no chance of surviving to healthy birth, has been developed offering fresh hope to women who have suffered repeated miscarriages. A £700 test that can screen about a third of chromosomes for abnormalities is already available and has recently been licensed in Britain. The new technique is the first to count every chromosome and is significantly more reliable. Dr Dagan Wells, a British scientist who led the US development team said, ‘What we want to do in IVF is not to transfer embryos that have no chance, accidentally leaving behind some that do. At the moment, the cost is prohibitive, about four or five times as much as a conventional procedure. However, that would come down as the technology improves and I think it would lend itself well to automation.’

Couples in some parts of Britain wait for more than two years to even start fertility treatment, according to a new study. In some areas no NHS funding is available at all, which means patients must seek private medical help. In other areas, free treatment is available but strict age limits can apply. The Labour party promised to investigate universal access to treatment but this has not yet brought any result. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is reviewing the policy and is due to report in mid-2003.

Source: The Times 12th October, Sunday Times 20th October

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