IVF/ART

Find a Support Group

Find a Professional

Avoiding Multiple Births in IVF

For countless infertile couples dreaming of a family, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a dream come true. If you are struggling with infertility, it’s important to know that you are not alone. In fact, of the 62 million women of childbearing age in the U.S., approximately 12 percent have received assistance for infertility. Over 142, 244 IVF cycles were performed at 442 reporting clinics in 2009, resulting in 45,870 live births and 60,190 infants in the U.S. The use of IVF has doubled over the past decade and, today, over 1% of all infants born in this country every year are conceived using Assisted Reproductive Technology – with IVF comprising 99% of ART procedures.

But there are other numbers to consider in your quest to have a baby. Increased use of assisted reproduction technologies has contributed to an increase in multiple births. And while many couples may welcome a set of twins, the prospect of triplets, quadruplets or even quintuplets can be daunting to say the least.

Some physicians implant three to five embryos to maximize the chance of success. As evidenced by the much-publicized “Octomom”, some fertility specialists have been known to go to greater lengths. As a result, worldwide, 45% of IVF babies are high-order pregnancies (three or more fetuses). Multiple pregnancies carry with them associated risks including a higher incidence of mortality, birth defects, premature delivery and low birth weight.

Using IVF to REDUCE the chance for a multiple birth

Ironically, IVF – the very procedure that has played a part in the rise of multiple births – is playing an important new role in reducing them, thanks to innovative technology and techniques:

  • Blastocyst Culture and Transfer – Clinicians grow the embryos in a nutrient-rich media for five days instead of the conventional three. This enables them to select the healthiest, promising embryos for implantation. Fewer need to be implanted, and the remainder can be frozen for future use, if needed.
  • Elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET) – Studies show that implanting multiple embryos in women under 35 doesn’t improve the pregnancy rate, it just increases the chance of a multiple birth. With eSET, a single embryo, usually a blastocyst, is transferred. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends a single embryo in women under 35 – two in those with an unfavorable prognosis.
  • Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) – Microscopic evaluation of early-stage (3-day) embryos identify those with the best development characteristics.
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization (CGH) – This new screening technique examines the 5-day blastocyst, allowing analysis of all 23 pairs of chromosomes to identify those with abnormalities thought to be responsible for implantation failure.

What can you do, as a patient?

First of all, don’t put off seeing a fertility specialist if you’ve been trying to conceive and have been unsuccessful. The need to implant added embryos – and the risk of multiple births – increases with age. Choose your fertility specialist carefully. Ask questions about your physician’s experience in achieving successful pregnancies while avoiding multiples. (Visit the Society for Reproductive Technology website for the success rates of most U.S. fertility clinics.) Have a dialogue with your chosen physician about your opinions on the prospect of a multiple pregnancy and the process he would recommend for you. And when you select the clinic and the physician to make your dream come true, carefully follow the course of treatment prescribed. 

Content originally provided by New Life Agency.