New ‘checklist’ avoids multiple birth risk whilst maintaining IVF success

18th July 2011 in Advice

Researchers claim to have developed a new way of identifying women for whom Single Embryo Transfer (SET) will have the most success, by using a simple ‘checklist’.

Since the HFEA launched new guidelines in 2007 aimed at reducing the number of IVF multiple births, fertility clinics – both NHS and private – have actively been working to achieve the target of just 15% by April 2012, through Single Embryo Transfer. This is where only one embryo is transferred per IVF cycle in women with a good IVF prognosis.

The new ‘checklist,’ which researchers from Sweden say could predict the chances of pregnancy, is based on four factors – the age of the woman, how many eggs produced, quality of the embryo to be transferred and past success with IVF.

Using this checklist on patients going through IVF over a four-year period, they were able to reduce the number of multiple births from just over 26% to less than two per cent, whilst maintaining the live birth rate.

This research shows that Single Embryo Transfer (SET) can be used successfully without altering the chances of IVF working. But it also demonstrates the importance of a full analysis of a patient when making decisions about whether SET is right for them.

At Manchester Fertility, we follow HFEA guidelines and actively promote SET in women for whom IVF has a good chance of working. As a result we have a low multiple pregnancy rate. But we don’t do this without first looking at their history of IVF, quality of embryos, eggs and age.

These are crucial factors – for example, in older women, SET may not be the right option because eggs are of lower quality. This is always done in full discussion and consultation with patients, to make sure they understand and are happy with their treatment plan.

SET hasn’t put an end to multiple births, but it is already making the right impact in reducing the number of twin and triplet pregnancies, which pose increased health risks to both mother and babies.