SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The VU University teaching hospital in Amsterdam has confirmed that it placed embryos possibly infected with a bacteria which causes meningitis in the wombs of 16 women undergoing fertility treatment.
The embryos were infected last week in a lab at the hospital’s ivf clinic. In total, embryos belonging to 31 women came into contact with the Sphingomonas koreensis bacteria.
Embryos which have not yet been placed back have been frozen and the hospital has halted all ivf treatment until it is clear where the infection came from. The bacteria was discovered during the daily checks on the petri dishes where the embryos are placed.
The bacteria is not a danger to healthy people, nor does it pose a large risk to embryos, a spokesman said. ‘We have reported this more as a precaution than because we are concerned something could go wrong,’ embryologist Sebastiaan Mastenbroek told broadcaster NOS.
One woman, identified as Maria by local broadcaster NH Nieuws said she had been told to report to the hospital’s accident and emergency unit if she had stomach problems or developed a temperature.
Marjolein Grömminger of the infertility support group Freya said the news is ‘terrible for all the women involved and their partners’.