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The different types of goop that embryos are grown in during in vitro fertilization could play a part in how well the process works — and how babies conceived through IVF fare after birth, too.

A new study — the first to randomly assign embryos to culture media — finds that the substrate used could affect the number of viable embryos created, pregnancy rates, and birth weight. There are around 20 different substrates used in clinics around the world. Fertility experts now say they want companies who make those compounds to clearly label the ingredients so scientists can parse out the differences.


During IVF, eggs and sperm are put together in a Petri dish filled with a culture media, which creates an environment to help embryos grow. Around three to five days later, one or more of those fertilized eggs are put into a woman’s uterus.

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