Medical Minute 12-22: IVF: More is Not Always Better

Allison McLaughlin had trouble getting pregnant, so she tried invitro fertilization or IVF. Two of her fertilized embryos were implanted back into her body. When we miscarried, Doctors tried three embryos to increase her chances.

"We said OK this is it last shot, if this doesn't work we're going to adopt," said Allison McLaughlin.

She and her husband had a healthy baby boy named Sean. But in a new international study, researchers find *some * women may want to consider transferring one embryo at a time - even if it reduces the chance of getting pregnant.

"The point that they make is [that] you can make up that difference by then using that embryo that you didn't transfer the first time in a later frozen embryo cycle," said Dr. Peter McGovern with Hackensack University Medical Center.

The study found that women who transferred one embryo were 5 times more likely to carry a baby to full term than women who had two embryos implanted. Those babies were less likely to be premature or low birth weight.

Just how many embryos should be transferred back into the mother is a controversial subject. Many patients want more embryos transferred to increase their chances of getting pregnant, but that can result in a multiple pregnancy - which can be risky for mom and her babies. Those risks include low birth weight and health complications.

Dr. McGovern says IVF with a single embryo can become expensive if it needs to be repeated

"They may not be able to afford many treatment cycles," said Dr. McGovern.

That's why Allison and her husband decided not to do it again -happy to be a family of three.

Doctors in the U.S. recommend most women implant no more than 3 or 4 embryos at once.

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