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Fertility Clinic Success Rates: 7 Things You Should Know
by Jennifer A. Redmond, Editor-in-Chief, June 17, 2010
Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes the Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates report, which provides a range of data related to assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles at U.S. fertility clinics. A 1992 law requires all fertility clinics to report their data to the CDC annually. (The Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, SART, a membership organization, also publishes an annual report.)
The newest CDC report presents data from 430 fertility clinics in operation in 2007: 57,569 infants were born as a result of 142,435 ART cycles. The CDC defines ART as “all fertility treatments in which both eggs and sperm are handled.” Therefore, IVF cycles are included in the report, but IUI treatments (in which only sperm is handled), or procedures in which ovulation inducing drugs are used but eggs are not retrieved, are not. The report tells you the number of cycles started, not the number of patients seen.
Tips for Interpreting the CDC Reports
It’s not recommended that fertility patients use the information in the report as the sole basis for choosing a fertility clinic, but many patients do just that! So we’ve compiled seven tips to help you better understand and utilize the report:
- 1. The CDC data is three years old. Why?
First, the clinics have to report live births, which occur approximately nine months after the ART cycles are complete. Additionally, the CDC needs time to compile, review, print and publish the data.
2. A number of factors influence clinic success rates.
Some important ones include:
- Some clinics are more “selective” about the patients they choose.
Patients’ age, diagnosis, and other factors impact (and possibly boost) success rates.
- The number of embryos transferred.
Single embryo transfer, while better for the patient and the baby, may lead to lower success rates – meaning fewer live births. But can “success” be defined as having quadruplets who spend months in the NICU? Or is success the birth one healthy baby?
3. Success rates related to specific diagnoses aren’t reported.
While the individual clinic reports tell you the percentage of patients with specific diagnoses, the success rates don’t tell you whether your particular fertility issue has a good chance of being treated at a particular clinic.
4. New in this current CDC report: statistics for the age groups “43 -– 44” and “44 and older.”
Previous reports grouped statistics for all women over age 42 together.
5. The CDC report provides information by clinic regarding the following:
- How many ART cycles a clinic performs each year, including IVF and donor egg.
- The types of ART the clinic performs.
- Patients’ diagnoses in percentages.
- The number of cycles from fresh embryos vs. frozen embryos.
- Live birth rates for your age group.
- The average number of embryos transferred.
6. Some fertility clinics use more than one lab.
It’s important to evaluate the lab in addition to the clinic.
7. Fertility clinics with more than one location or office report their data as one practice.
Think of the fertility clinic success rates as one tool to help you determine the right clinic for treating your infertility. Along with reported success rate statistics, other factors to consider include size of the clinic (one size doesn’t fit all), personality ( yours and the clinic staffs’), and geography.
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