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One Embryo Nearly as Good as Multiples for Pregnancy

by Gene Emery,  ABC News,  Oct 28, 2009
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Women who initially receive just one embryo during in vitro fertilization are as likely to produce a child as women implanted with two, Swedish researchers reported on Wednesday.

The research, which follows up on a 2004 study, comes amid widespread concern over health risks to mothers and babies associated with multiple births that often occur when more than one embryo is implanted using test tube baby technology.

Dr. Ann Thurin-Kjellberg of Gothenburg University and her colleagues report in the New England Journal of Medicine that they initially gave 661 women either one or two embryos.

If the women didn't become pregnant, they received embryos that had been frozen and thawed. One or two frozen embryos were implanted for each attempt, and up to four such attempts were made.

More than half, 53 percent, of the women implanted with one embryo on the initial try gave birth, compared to 57 percent who received two embryos on the first attempt, an insignificant difference, the researchers said.

But there was a big difference in the odds of having twins or premature babies. Read more.


Comments (1)

Where insurance recognized infertility as a disease, paid for treatment and ivf cycle to help those of us who are infertile create our families a SET (single embryo transfer) would be ideal. Singleton pregnancies are by far much easier to carry than multiple pregnancies. However, there's a small problem with this study. The study says that more than half 53% of the women who had one embryo transferred back (embryos are transferred back and then they implant) and those women who had two embryos transferred back had a 57% chance of success. They say the 4% is negligible. And I agree with that. What they aren't saying is that no two IVF cycles are alike -- and while they are comparing 661 women they aren't saying what the success rates of those clinics are in which the study is conducted. For instance, when a patient undergoes Donor Egg IVF and is treated at clinics like, San Diego Fertility, Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, IVF New Jersey, Oregon Reproductive Medicine, Reproductive Partners -UCSD, just to name a few -- these are clinics with 70-80+% take home baby rates when peforming 5 day transfers and and placing back two embryos. The cost of DE IVF is incredibly expensive. It's anywhere from 28k-45k depending on where you go. You really only want to do this once and hopefully have left over embryos to add to your family down the road. FETs (frozen embryo transfers) are anywhere from 3-5k per shot. So the higher your success rate the better for the patient. The good news for patients who undergo DE IVF is that egg vitrification is the wave of the future and regarding the freezing and thawing process keeps those success rates nice and high. Personally, I don't think that putting back two embryos is unreasonable. And while in a perfect world carrying one baby is ideal all the way around -- again unless insurance companies are going to pay for multiple IVF cycles so women can try again and again. Yes, it's all about money.

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