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Glenn Nichols, surrounded by his hospice team. The author is in yellow.

Genetic Linkage

Cow Embryos Reveal New Type of Chromosome Chimera

May 25, 2016

Tags: mosaic embryos

Cow embryos (credit: Maaike Catteeuw, Ghent University)
I’ve often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It’s a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental biology, because observing or doing anything to even the earliest human embryos is frowned upon.

Every time I write the following paragraph in new editions of my textbooks, I try to picture what can go wrong during those first cell divisions.

“The birth of a healthy baby is against the odds. Of every 100 eggs exposed to sperm, 84 are fertilized. Of these 84, 69 implant in the uterus, 42 survive one week or longer, 37 survive 6 weeks or longer, and only 31 are born alive. Of the fertilized ova that do not survive, about half have chromosomal abnormalities that cause problems too severe for development to proceed.” (more…)

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