Heavy drinking during pregnancy raises the potential for the alcohol type to interact with the placenta or in extreme to directly affect health. A new system for heavy drinking using a type of IVF technology is open to those working to tweak IVF embryos to increase their chances of picking up high-risk drugs. In this process the IVF embryo is developed what is known as in-vitro fertilization (IVF-T) in which a mothers egg is treated with an external chemical. Those unable to control the process with a minor stroke or other cerebral palsy are unable to develop viable fetuses. The new system offers a means for doctors to pick up on the birth of a healthy embryo waiting for further testing in lab animals.

Responding to a research advertisement published in Nature Physics the group of researchers led by Yang Zheng of Fudan University found that successful IVF-T fertilization increased the rate of neural development of newborn mice by 70 percent. To their surprise the data showed the same results in their laboratory animals. However the results looked quite different in adult mouse models.

This new research is the next step toward exploring how the data from each IVF-T embryo holds true in humans. To date the application of IVF-T for human IVF has only been explored in mice. The finding published in Nature Pairing is an important step toward achieving that goal.

An important next step is to explore the mechanism by which IVF-T fertilization increases neural development as well as the effects of emotional stress with and without the ability to control IVF-T in humans. More clinical translational and uncontrolled toxicity studies of IVF-T in humans may be useful to uncover whether IVF-T impacts mental and physical development said Zheng an associate professor of physics and chairman of the research program at Fudan University.

The researchers were not sure which effects of emotional trauma – which still has to be explored in future work – would occur.

We need to carefully evaluate the effects IVF-T surrogates may have on behavioral and neurological development and the effects of IVF-T in humans. Likewise a similar approach is needed Zheng said. Our goal is to improve IVF-T by providing more human-relevant outcomes of IVF-T embryo selection.