Human embryos from overweight and obese women display phenotypic and metabolic abnormalities", by Christine Leary, Henry J. Leese, and Roger G.
Sturmey. Human Reproduction. doi:10.1093/humrep/deu276
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During IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment, women take fertility drugs that allow multiple eggs to mature in the ovaries at the same time. These eggs are then collected and fertilised with sperm outside of the human body, before being allowed to divide and develop for between three and five days. Throughout this time, the embryos are carefully monitored so that specialists in the clinic are able to select the embryos that have the best chance of success to transfer to woman’s uterus.
In this study, the researchers carefully observed how 218 eggs from 29 different women (12 of a healthy weight, 17 overweight or obese) developed during the first three to five days following fertilisation. After embryo transfer to the uterus had taken place, there were 101 embryos remaining that the researchers were able to continue to observe for up to nine days following fertilisation. A second group of 29 women (22 of a healthy weight, 7 overweight or obese) donated a further 150 embryos, which were analysed for how much glucose they consumed, how much fat they contained and how well they produced amino acids. These tests are non-invasive (do not harm the embryo) and were carried out in accordance with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on embryos that would otherwise have been discarded.
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