Single embryo transfers = more successful pregnancy


Perinatal mortality has decreased in infants born by IVF and ICSI when single embryo transfer (SET) is used. New policies enforcing SET have reduced the risk and increased the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Justification for SET policy

Professor Elizabeth Sullivan from the Perinatal and Reproductive Epidemiology Research Unit of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, presented the analysis at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). “There is justification for advocating SET as first line management in assisted reproduction with the aim of minimizing preventable perinatal deaths,” she explained.

Over 50,000 births analyzed

The study reviewed 50,258 births from IVF and ICSI, all more than 20 weeks gestation. The number of still births and neonatal deaths (within 28 days of birth) combined equaled the total number of perinatal deaths. The overall perinatal mortality rate was 16.2 per 1000 births. There were 813 perinatal deaths between 2004 and 2008 when the records were pulled.

SET significantly lower mortality than two embryo transfer

Births utilizing SET had a significantly lower perinatal mortality than two embryo transfers. Single embryo mortality had 13.2 deaths per 1000 births. Two embryo transfer had 19.1 deaths per 1000 births. Twins had a considerably higher perinatal mortality rate than single births. There were 27.8 deaths per 1000 births compared to 12.4 per 1000 births for singletons. Unfortunately, twins were responsible for half of the total neonatal deaths and one-third the perinatal deaths.

Number of embryos determines outcome

“The number of embryos transferred per procedure is the major determinant of multiple pregnancy and multiple delivery, which contribute to an elevated risk of preterm birth and low birth weight, and its sequealae. These are risks in addition to those already faced by women begin treated for infertility,” explained Sullivan.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, ESHRE


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