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Welcome to The Visible Embryo, a comprehensive educational resource on human development from conception to birth.

The Visible Embryo provides visual references for changes in fetal development throughout pregnancy and can be navigated via fetal development or maternal changes.

The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development awarded Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovative Research Grants to develop The Visible Embryo. Initally designed to evaluate the internet as a teaching tool for first year medical students, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than one million visitors each month.

Today, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than 1 million visitors each month. The field of early embryology has grown to include the identification of the stem cell as not only critical to organogenesis in the embryo, but equally critical to organ function and repair in the adult human. The identification and understanding of genetic malfunction, inflammatory responses, and the progression in chronic disease, begins with a grounding in primary cellular and systemic functions manifested in the study of the early embryo.

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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
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Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive Jan 14, 2014

 

"Using frozen embryos eliminated all significant adverse
outcomes associated with ICSI but not with IVF.


Professor Michael Davies, study leader, University of Adelaide.






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Higher risk of birth problems after IVF

A University of Adelaide study has shown that the risk of serious complications such as stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight and neonatal death is around twice as high for babies conceived by assisted reproductive therapies compared with naturally conceived babies.

In the most comprehensive study of its kind in the world, researchers from the University's Robinson Institute have compared the outcomes of more than 300,000 births in South Australia over a 17-year period. This included more than 4,300 births from assisted reproduction.

They compared adverse birth events related to all forms of available treatment, including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), ovulation induction, and cryopreservation of embryos.

The results are published online today in the journal PLOS ONE.


"Compared with spontaneous conceptions in couples with no record of infertility, singleton babies from assisted conception were almost twice as likely to be stillborn, more than twice as likely to be preterm, almost three times as likely to have very low birth weight, and twice as likely to die within the first 28 days of birth,"

Professor Michael Davies, study leader, University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute.


"These outcomes varied depending on the type of assisted conception used. Very low and low birth weight, very preterm and preterm birth, and neonatal death were markedly more common in births from IVF and, to a lesser degree, in births from ICSI," he says.

"Using frozen embryos eliminated all significant adverse outcomes associated with ICSI but not with IVF. However, frozen embryos were also associated with increased risk of macrosomia (big baby syndrome) for IVF and ICSI babies."

Professor Davies says the study confirms related work in Europe and Australia showing that infertility treatment is associated with adverse outcomes for newborn babies.


"More research is now urgently needed into longer term follow-up of those who have experienced comprehensive perinatal disadvantage.

"Our studies also need to be expanded to include more recent years of treatment, as the technology has been undergoing continual innovation, which may influence the associated risks."

Professor Michael Davies


This is also the first study to make a comparison with pregnancies in women diagnosed with infertility, but who never received intensive treatment.

"Women in this group who eventually conceived without the help of invasive assisted reproduction gave birth to babies who were nine times more likely to have very low birth weight, seven times more likely to be very preterm, and almost seven times more likely to die within the first 28 days of birth. This may be due to the underlying medical conditions related to their infertility, or the use of fertility medications or therapies that are not recorded," Davies adds.

Abstract

Background
Fertility treatment is associated with increased risk of major birth defects, which varies between in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and is significantly reduced by embryo freezing. We therefore examined a range of additional perinatal outcomes for these exposures.

Methods
All patients in South Australia receiving assisted conception between Jan 1986–Dec 2002 were linked to the state-wide perinatal collection (all births/stillbirths ≥20 weeks gestation or 400 g birth weight, n = 306 995). We examined stillbirth, mean birth weight, low birth weight (<2500 g, <1500 g), small size for gestational age (<10th percentile, <3rd percentile), large size for gestational age (>90th percentile), preterm birth (32–<37 weeks, <32 weeks gestation), postterm birth (≥41 weeks gestation), Apgar <7 at 5 minutes and neonatal death.

Results
Relative to spontaneous conceptions, singletons from assisted conception were more likely to be stillborn (OR = 1.82, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.34–2.48), while survivors as a group were comprehensively disadvantaged at birth, including lower birth weight (−109 g, CI −129–−89), very low birth weight (OR = 2.74, CI 2.19–3.43), very preterm birth (OR = 2.30, CI 1.82–2.90) and neonatal death (OR = 2.04, CI 1.27–3.26). Outcomes varied by type of assisted conception. Very low and low birth weight, very preterm and preterm birth, and neonatal death were markedly more common in singleton births from IVF and to a lesser degree, in births from ICSI. Using frozen-embryos eliminated all significant adverse outcomes associated with ICSI but not with IVF. However, frozen-embryo cycles were also associated with increased risk of macrosomia for IVF and ICSI singletons (OR = 1.36, CI 1.02–1.82; OR = 1.55, CI 1.05–2.28). Infertility status without treatment was also associated with adverse outcomes.

Conclusions
Births after assisted conception show an extensive range of compromised outcomes that vary by treatment modality, that are substantially reduced after embryo freezing, but which co-occur with an increased risk of macrosomia.


This study has been funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The full paper can be found at: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0080398