UCD researchers have made a major breakthrough in the development of IVF treatment for infertile couples.
It is hoped that the discovery will lead to a higher rate of successful pregnancies and a lower number of multiple births for couples undergoing IVF treatments here and abroad.
At the moment, only about one third of IVF treatments result in a pregnancy so doctors implant multiple embryos. This, however increases the birth rate of twins, triplets and even higher numbers of babies.
The UCD team has found a way to measure the potential success rate of the embryo before it is transferred back into the woman's womb.
University College Dublin doctors hope their discovery will help the selection of potentially successful single eggs which will increase the chances of pregnancy succeeding and reduce multiple births.
The scientists have discovered that the fluid surrounding the egg within a woman's ovaries holds metabolic information that can improve predictions on which embryo is more like to lead to a successful pregnancy. Dr Lorraine Brennan, of the UCD Conway Institute and one of the authors of the study, explained how they analysed samples of this fluid around immature eggs before they were retrieved for IVF.
They found significant differences in the fluids from women who successfully achieved pregnancy after IVF.
Dr Brennan said: "We are hopeful that the results obtained from larger samples will support our initial findings."