Kathryn C. Worrilow was director of the in vitro fertilization laboratory at Lehigh Valley Health Network in 1999 when she uncovered a frustrating trend: a roller coaster of pregnancy rates.
IVF, a method of creating embryos by mixing eggs and sperm in a lab dish, had been around for years but was still far from perfect as a reproductive technology. One month the numbers at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg would be up, the next they’d be down.
Worrilow’s team went to work finding a cause for the inconsistent readings. Was it in the lab protocols? Was the incubator functioning properly? They uncovered nothing.
“And the last thing we looked at was the air,” recalled Worrilow, 57, of Upper Macungie Township. “Because we ran a clean room. Why would you look at the air?”
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