The birth rate among American women aged 35 and up has risen steadily over the last four decades as women choose to postpone pregnancy in order to pursue education and careers (1). However, women in that age group face biological obstacles to becoming pregnant, and many turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments to help them conceive.
Some IVF clinics now offer preimplantation genetic diagnoses (PGD) that increase the chances of pregnancy by screening out genetically abnormal embryos.
The success of IVF treatments is tied closely to the genetic health of the patients’ embryos. According to Dr. Ernest Zeringue, founder of the California IVF Fertility Center, 60% of embryos are abnormal in women by age 35, 85% by age 40, and 95% by age 42. Many abnormal embryos look normal under a microscope, which is the biggest factor in only a third of IVF cycles resulting in a successful pregnancy (2). In addition, genetic abnormalities may lead to a miscarriage or a fetus with genetic diseases such as Down syndrome, or inherited genetic disorders.
Genetic screening of embryos at IVF clinics consists of taking biopsies of cells from embryos and sending them to a lab for genetic testing to determine which ones are normal. The cost of the screening is approximately $7900, but the greatly increased odds of pregnancy that normal embryos give are very likely to offset the costs of additional frozen embryo transfers that would be needed after a negative pregnancy test, as explained by Dr. Zeringue.
A recent study outline in an article in Bioscience Technology (3) concludes that genetic screening led to implantation rates in 42 year old patients similar to rates in patients that were 35 years old. “You can wipe out the age effect by just implanting chromosomally normal embryos” – according to James Grifo, NYU Fertility Center Program Director and one of the authors of the study.
For more information on Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) offered by California IVF please visit www.californiaivf.com/genetic-diagnosis-PGD-CGH.htm
To learn more about the ultrasound systems that California IVF uses in their clinics, please visit www.analogicultrasound.com/applications/ivf-fertility.