Helen posted this under the comments of another recent blog entry. I moved it to its own post so the comments can be kept separate and so the information would be easy to find for people searching.
Helen Harrison here, reporting from beachside at Waikiki where I just attended the 2008 Society for Pediatric research:
Here was an excellent study of IVF that bears on the discussion at hand:
[4305.1] The Cost of Irresponsibility
Bridget Spelke, Annie Janvier, Richard Brown, Danielle Vallerand, Keith J. Barrington. Pediatrics, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada; Obstetrics, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
BACKGROUND: Multiple births increase the risks of fetal, maternal and neonatal morbidities. The present epidemic of multiple births is partly due to assisted reproductive technologies (ART). In contrast to Canada and the US, many countries regulate ARTs. In these countries, single embryo transfer (SET) during IVF is the norm. However, mothers with a history of infertility have increased perinatal morbidity even when a single embryo is transferred. In previous studies, 10% of women who have IVF and SET deliver before 35 weeks (and are therefore admitted to NICU).
OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of ART on resource utilization and outcomes in our NICU.
DESIGN/METHODS: We reviewed all multiple births admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital NICU born between April 2005 and July 2007. Babies and mothers charts were reviewed. Using modeling and our patient demographics, we estimated how many days of complications could have been avoided if singletons were born to these mothers, had SET transfer been used during IVF.
RESULTS: During that period, 82 babies from ART multiple pregnancies were admitted to the NICU, representing 17% of NICU admissions.
4 mothers (9%) had previously experienced the death of a premature singleton.
42 mothers gave birth to 75 babies following IVF (15% of NICU admissions): average GA = 32.2wks, mortality 7%, intubation 34%, 60% TPN, 88% gavage, 6% BPD, 12% NEC / perforation.
If SET had been used in these women, and only10% would have delivered < 35 weeks, we could have avoided: 6 deaths, 5 severe IVHs, 270 eye exams, 4 surgeries for severe ROP, 260 intubated d, 643 oxygen d, 950 TPN d, 2001 gavage d, and 3082 NICU days.
CONCLUSIONS: Although some multiple births occur spontaneously, the current enormous increase in multiples is human-made, the lack of legal or voluntary restrictions on ART practices are responsible for 17% of NICU admissions, bringing about unacceptable financial and emotional costs. These admissions could be avoided. To reduce the number of multiple gestations, many countries have made SET the norm, and have drastically reduced the rate of multiples, while overall not affecting the pregnancy rate. We should take example from these countries.
Sunday, May 4, 2008 9:15 AM
Platform Session: Clinical Bioethics (9:15 AM - 11:15 AM)