Building Healthy Families One Baby at a Time
Building families, one healthy baby at a time, through innovative and evidence-based infertility care is at the heart of our mission at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ). While newborn twin photo shoots are adorable, the reality is that a twin pregnancy carries more medical risks to both the mother and babies than a single baby pregnancy. The risks increase even more with triplets or higher-order multiples. Additionally, these high-risk pregnancies can potentially lead to life-long disabilities for mom and babies. You may know that the national average for twins or higher-order multiples was about 22% of live births for patients under 35 years old, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) preliminary 2015 report. What you may not realize is the overwhelming majority of those twins and triplets are a result of the transfer of two or more embryos during in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles.
So why is the national average for twins conceived through IVF so high? The primary reason is that about one-third of embryos produced are chromosomally abnormal (aneuploid) and would not lead to a live birth, even for those younger than 35 years old. Therefore, many fertility clinics will transfer more than one embryo at a time to increase the chances of a live birth – regardless of the greater risk of multiples and medical complications for the mother. Of course, there are ways to reduce the incidence of multiple births associated with IVF. In fact, the key is to routinely use single embryo transfer (SET), where only one embryo is transferred back into the uterus instead of two or more. This approach makes sense because one embryo almost always leads to one baby, except when it rarely splits on its own (about 1 out of 100 times) resulting in identical twins.
Fortunately, at RMANJ we’re able to choose the chromosomally normal (euploid) embryo instead of relying on chance – thanks to advances in IVF lab technology for genetic testing. By combining SET with comprehensive chromosome screening (CCS) in IVF cycles, we can keep live birth rates high while essentially eliminating the pregnancy complications due to twins and triplets. This is the foundation to building families one healthy baby at a time.
Written By: George Patounakis, MD, PhD, FACOG