At the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, researchers from Australia revealed the exciting results of their large retrospective survey. The team, led by Elizabeth Sullivan from the Perinatal & Reproductive Epidemiology Research Unit of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, reviewed birth data in over 50,000 births that resulted from reproductive technology, specifically IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or ICSI (intra cytoplasmic sperm injection).
In Australia and New Zealand, many of the reproductive endocrinologists has voluntarily adopted a policy of only transferring a single embryo during IVF procedures. The result? A dramatic decrease in stillbirths and infant death within in the first month of life for babies born from IVF.
According to the press release, the rate of single embryo transfer (SET) has increased from 14.2% in 1999 to 67.8% in 2008. Multiple births have decreased from 22.1% in 2000 to 8.4% in 2008. More importantly, the risk of perinatal mortality was 53% lower after SET than multiple embryo transfer. The difference was even more dramatic for fresh embryo transfer at 74% greater risk for multiple embryos.
These numbers are remarkable.
We have known that twin and higher order multiple pregnancies have greater risk for pregnancy complications and perinatal mortality for a long time. But when it comes to infertility, the conventional wisdom has usually been to transfer multiple embryos to increase a woman's chance of maintaining at least one viable pregnancy. IVF isn't cheap, and usually people only come to it after months or years of struggling with infertility. They want results. However, there is also something to be said for having the healthiest possible pregnancy after all that struggle and expense. SET might allow couples to have a healthy, full-term baby with a much lower risk of stillbirth or neonatal death.
If you've been struggling with infertility, and you're a candidate for IVF, talk to your doctor about your odds for a healthier pregnancy with Single Embryo Transfer.
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