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Single Embryo Approach Most Efficient Fertility Treatment

March 25, 2009

A single embryo implant is cheaper and more effective than using two or more embryos at one time, according to a Finnish study published on Wednesday.

The new findings appear to challenge previous notions that the method of implanting multiple embryos during in-vitro fertilization is the most effective approach to helping a woman become pregnant.

“This is the first study to evaluate the cumulative effect of fresh cycles with subsequent cycles using frozen-thawed embryos in a complete, consecutive (and therefore unselected) patient population over an extended period of time,” said Dr Hannu Martikainen, Chief Physician of the Division of Infertility and Reproductive Endocrinology at the University of Oulu, Finland.

Martikainen’s findings are based on data from the longest running series of patients who choose the elective single embryo transfer (eSET).

“We found that a baby born alive at term using eSET was, on average, 19,889 euros less expensive than babies born as a result of double embryo transfer,” said Martikainen, whose team compared the outcomes of IVF/ICSI cycles in two periods at their fertility clinic.

From 1995-1999, eSET was far less commonly used (4.2 percent of women) than in 2000-2004 (46.2 percent of women), researchers said.

“Over the ten-year period, 1,510 women younger than 40 were treated at the infertility unit at Oulu University Hospital,” researchers said in the journal Human Reproduction.

“They had a total of 2,386 cycles when fresh embryos were transferred, followed by 1,272 cycles when frozen-thawed embryos were transferred (FET). About 90% of deliveries in both periods occurred within the first four treatment cycles, suggesting that the time to delivery with eSET is no longer than that for DET.”

“These data should also encourage clinics to evaluate their embryo transfer policy and adopt single embryo transfer as their everyday practice for women younger than 40,” said Martikainen.

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