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Better way of predicting IVF success

Consumer Reports News: August 02, 2010 07:08 AM

Anyone who has been through IVF treatment for infertility will know it’s a physically and emotionally demanding processnot to mention very expensive.

But success rates are generally below 50 percent for the first cycle, meaning many couples need to decide whether to give it another try, in the hope that they’ll be able to have a baby next time around.

The chances of success are one major factor to consider when making that decision. Yet, up to now, doctors have not been able to give an accurate prediction of how likely a second cycle of IVF is to succeed. Most current predictions are based primarily on a woman’s age.

Yet new research shows that a woman’s age may not be the most important predictor of IVF success. A new model, devised by scientists at Stanford University from looking at data on several thousand IVF attempts, found that other factors were more important. Specifically, the chances of success second time around were higher if the embryos produced in the first round of IVF had developed at the normal rate during the first five days.

The model weighed a range of factors, all of which are information that the clinic should have from the first round of IVF. The researchers say their model was 1,000 times more accurate at predicting second-round success, compared to predictions based on age alone. More than 80 percent of couples had a different prediction based on the new model, and for more than half of them, the chances of successfully having a baby were rated as higher under the new model than the old.

What you need to know. The Stanford scientists say that any clinic could use their model to improve their predictions about IVF second-cycle treatments. If your clinic gives predictions based on age alone, you could ask them to consider other factors, and discuss this new research with them.

Anna Sayburn, patient editor, BMJ Group has partnered with The BMJ Group to monitor the latest medical research and assess the evidence to help you decide which news you should use.

Read more about what happens during in vitro fertilization and take a look at how IVF measures up to other treatments for infertility (available to subscribers). 


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