Multiple births don’t have to be an inevitable result of fertility treatments

Reston, VA OBGYN

twinsAccording to studies, more than a third of twin births and more than three-quarters of triplets or higher-order births in the United States are the result of assisted reproductive technologies. Since 1980, when the IVF medical techniques were introduced in the country, the rate of twins in all births has climbed seventy percent, to 3.5 percent of births in 2004.

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There is no doubt that these assisted fertility treatments are a boon for couples who cannot have babies in a natural way. However, multiple births raise medical risks and hospital bills for moms and babies.  Studies show triplets are five times as likely to die as single babies, while twins have two and a half times the risk of fatal complications after the birth.

According to the researchers in Yale School of Medicine, the risk of multiple births can be reduced by making certain regulations and policies, and modifications in clinical practice.

To achieve the goal of a single healthy baby, it is essential that IVF clinics focus on transferring fewer embryos and develop more advanced ways to identify the healthiest embryos with the greatest chance of success.

The main reason for IVF couples opting for multiple embryo implant is the high cost of IVF treatment. The single cycle of IVF technique costs around $10,000. And most people are not insured for IVF technique. Therefore, they maximize their chances of having their baby by implanting more than two embryos. Frustrated people who don’t get pregnant after a couple cycles will think more is better. Another reason for not choosing single embryo transfer is its low success rate.

To reduce the risk of multiple pregnancies in assisted fertility treatments, fertility doctors and researchers have come up with new policies and recommendations. These policies have been derived after a thorough research project. According to the researchers, the odds of multiple births can be reduced by increasing the insurance coverage so that the patients do not feel the financial pressure and give importance to the risks associated with twins or triplets; providing complete information about the risks associated with multiple births, and doing continuing research to improve efficacy and safety of IVF techniques. Experts also believe that it is important to convince IVF couples to go for two IVF cycles, first transferring one fresh embryo while freezing the others. If the first transfer is not successful, another single frozen embryo is transferred. This approach yields similar success rates as of transferring more than one embryo at one time. However, it drastically reduces the chances of multiple births.

Source: Medicalxpress.com – 2014/04

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