Scientists believe they have found a way of doubling the IVF success rate by using a new method of embryo selection.
The chance of success is highly dependent on a woman's age, with the latest figures showing that 32.3pc of IVF treatments led to a live birth in women under 35. The rate went down to 27.7pc for women aged 35 to 37 and was only 1.9pc for women over 44.
British company MAP Diag- nostics said its non-invasive screening technique involves scanning a tiny drop of the culture medium in which the embryo is incubated prior to being transferred to the mother's womb.
This identifies signals secreted by the early-stage embryo, known as a blastocyst, which predict the likelihood of a successful pregnancy, meaning the embryo with the best odds can then be selected for implantation.
Research has found that the method's identification of a viable embryo correlated with a 57pc chance of IVF resulting in a live birth.
British scientists have developed the technique in collaboration with Dr Fady Sharara, a leading fertility specialist in the US, and their work is being presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction's annual conference in Lisbon, this week.
"The potential to increase IVF success and reduce the anguish and expense of repeated cycles is tremendous," said Prof Ray Iles, co-author of the study and chief operating officer of MAP Diagnostics.