In Vitro Fertilization Breakthrough Dramatically Increases Success Rate
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an often risky and always expensive method for women who are trying to become pregnant — costing thousands of dollars and only achieving a ℠live birth´ rate, or success rate, of about 22 percent per attempt, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, a new study in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online showed that using time-lapse imagery, fertilization experts boost their success rate by 56 percent.
“In the 35 years I have been in this field, this is probably the most exciting and significant development that can be of value to all patients seeking IVF,” said study co-author Simon Fishel, a director at the IVF CARE Fertility company in the United Kingdom.
In the journal report, the authors suggested that large-scale, controlled trials“¯need to be conducted before their method can be widely adopted.
“This paper is interesting because we really do need to make advances in selecting the best embryos created during IVF,” said Dr. Allan Pacey, chairman of the British Fertility Society. “The idea of monitoring embryo development more closely is being used increasing in clinics around the world and so it is good to see the science involved submitted to peer review and publication.”
Using more than 5,000 time-lapse snapshots, the monitoring technique involves watching the development of a several IVF embryos until they reach a critical stage — at which point those that are developing too slowly are discarded. Slow development is often a telltale sign that cells may have chromosomal problems.
“As a result of continuous monitoring, we have demonstrated that delays at defined time points indicate abnormal development,” lead author Alison Campbell, CARE´s embryology director, told The Telegraph.
“In every IVF lab in the world they are unintentionally putting back unviable embryos — most of those don´t implant, and those that do usually result in miscarriage or in a few cases result in abnormalities such as Down´s and Edwards´ Syndromes,” explained Fishel.
University of Cambridge professor and editor at Reproductive BioMedicine Online Martin Johnson described the company´s findings to The Telegraph as “a very significant advance” for IVF technology.
“These are really impressive results,” he said. “It is extremely exciting and one of the biggest steps forward for a long time, but it is important that we have a prospective randomized controlled trial.”
“Time lapse imaging of the early development of human embryos offers the exciting potential of a novel and non-invasive way of selecting the embryo with the greatest chance of implantation outside the womb,” added Stuart Lavery, director of IVF at Hammersmith Hospital in London.
The study´s findings bode well for couples considering IVF, which costs an average of $12,400, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. The cost of treatment varies by location, the amount of medication required, the number of IVF cycles attempted, and insurance coverage.
WebMD recommends that couples investigate their insurance coverage regarding IVF and “ask for a written statement of your benefits. Although some states have enacted laws requiring insurance companies to cover at least some of the costs of infertility treatment, many states haven’t.”