We're used to hearing about female stars who have twins after undergoing IVF, but it seems that this phenomenon is destined to become something D-listers snark about on I Love The '10s. According to a new study, reproductive technology has improved to the point that transferring only one embryo during in vitro fertilization won't lower a woman's chances of giving birth, but it will reduce her risk of having to go through with a risky pregnancy or make a tough call about reduction.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends that doctors transfer only two embryos in women under 35, though in the past doctors have transferred as many as six (or 12, if they're looking for a lawsuit) in the hope that one will develop into a healthy pregnancy. While the practice increased the odds of a success, carrying multiples is risky to both the mother and her babies, raising the chances of diabetes, cerebral palsy, and premature birth.
In a new study in the journal Fertility and Sterility, Jessica Kresowik of the University of Iowa reports that in 2004 she implemented a policy of only transferring one embryo to healthy women under 38 getting their first round of IVF. According to Reuters, after comparing the clinic's success rate for five years before and after the policy shift, she found that birth rates actually improved a bit during that time period. Prior to 2004, 51% of women under 38 gave birth to a live baby, and under the new policy the success rate jumped to 56%. During that time the percentage of women who gave birth to multiples after being treated at the clinic dropped from 35% to 18%.
This doesn't mean that doctors were wrong to recommend transferring more than one embryo, but it may be time to move away from that policy. "In the past, you did need to implant multiple embryos in order to maintain those pregnancy rates," said Kresowik. The idea that women who undergo IVF may not need to take their chances on a high-risk pregnancy is exciting, even though this development promises to wreak havoc on TLC's programming schedule.
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