Bacteria-contaminated embryos implanted in 16 women during IVF treatments
The VUmc implanted embryos possibly infected with the Sphingomonas koreensis bacterium in 16 women, the Amsterdam hospital confirmed to NH Nieuws. The bacterium can cause meningitis and is generally not dangerous to healthy people, but the hospital does not yet know what effect it will have on the affected mothers and embryos.
The contamination happened at a laboratory of the IVF center at VUmc. It involves a total of 31 women whose embryos may have been in contact with this bacterium. The embryos of 16 women were implanted - seven women treated by the VUMc itself, and nine treated at regional hospitals. The embryos of the other women were frozen.
The contamination was discovered this past weekend, during a standard daily check of the culture dishes used to fertilize eggs. A spokesperson for the hospital told NH Nieuws that the bacterium is harmless to healthy people. But when asked whether this also applies to embryos and pregnancies, she said: "We just don't know yet. We have to investigate that first."
The hospital suspended IVF related treatments for the coming week or two, while it investigates the source of the contamination.