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New tool may slow women's biological clocks

July 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Doctors are now making progress when it comes to women over 40 who have dreams of motherhood. Thanks to better chromosomal screening, doctors say a woman's biological clock may not tick quite so fast.

Valerie Simpson, 39, says she considers it a miracle procedure. Simpson had already lost one baby at birth. Two years later, she and her husband still wanted a baby.

"I just couldn't imagine going through life without a child after holding him and feeling that love," she said.

Doctors suggested the Simpsons try in-vitro fertilization combined with comprehensive chromosome screening (CCS).

"It's not uncommon for a patient this age to have five or six embryos and just one normal embryo. It's almost like looking for needle in a haystack," said Dr. William Schoolcraft of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).

Schoolcraft said doctors at CCRM have pioneered a new way to test the embryo.

"We wait until it is a 60-cell, day-five blastocyst, and then remove a cell or two from the placenta, which doesn't harm the embryo, and then we look at all 46 chromosomes, much like a woman would do when she has an amniocentesis to check her pregnancy at 16 weeks," Schoolcraft said.

The embryos are frozen until test results are in.

Utilizing CCS, women 35 to 37 have a 78-percent chance of pregnancy. Women 38 to 40 get a 68-percent chance and women up to 42 years of age have a 62-percent chance of pregnancy.

"To know you have a healthy baby is very comforting thing. It takes away a lot of fear," said father Rob Simpson.

Of the Simpsons' eight embryos, one tested healthy.

"Our doctor recommended that we put that one in, and we did, and we have a perfect baby boy," Valerie Simpson said.

The procedure reverses the reproductive body clock by about five to seven years.

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