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Archive for the ‘multiple pregnancies reduced’ tag

Infertility Podcast Series: Journey to the Crib: Chapter 28: No More “Jon and Kate” Casualties

By David Kreiner MD

September 20th, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Welcome to the Journey to the Crib Podcast.  We will have a blog discussion each week with each chapter.  This podcast covers Chapter Twenty-Eight: No More “Jon and Kate” Casualties. You, the listener, are invited to ask questions and make comments.  You can access the podcast here: http://podcast.longislandivf.com/?p=136

 No More “Jon and Kate” Casualties

 Two years ago when I wrote this chapter, the Jon and Kate makes eight story was still hot in the press.  It brought to the national limelight the potentially tragic risk of the high order multiple pregnancy for women undergoing fertility therapy.  It is one I was all too familiar with from my early days in the field, during the mid-1980′s when the success with IVF was poor and we consequently ran into occasional high order multiple pregnancies with transfer of four or more embryos or with the alternative gonadotropin injection treatment with intrauterine insemination (IUI). 

Today, IVF is an efficient process that, combined with the ability to cryopreserve excess embryos, allows us to avoid almost all high order multiple pregnancies.  In fact the IVF triplet pregnancy rate for Long Island IVF docs has been under 1% for several years now.  There has not been a quadruplet pregnancy in over 20 years.  Such a claim cannot be made for gonadotropin injection/IUI therapy where as many eggs that ovulate may implant. 

You may ask then why would we provide a service that is both less successful and more risky and was the reason Jon and Kate made eight. 

Not surprisingly, the impetus for this unfortunate treatment choice is financial.  Insurance companies, looking to minimize their cost,  refuse to cover fertility treatment unless they are forced to do so.  In New York State, there is a law that requires insurance companies based in NY State that cover companies with over 50 employees that is not an HMO to cover IUI.  The insurance companies battled in Albany to prevent a mandate to cover IVF as has been passed in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois among a few others.  As a result, many patients are covered for IUI but not IVF.  This short-sighted policy ignores the costs that the insurance companies, and ultimately society, incurs as a result of high order multiple pregnancies, hospital and long-term care for the babies. 

The answer is simple.  Encourage patients to practice safer more effective fertility.  This can be accomplished with insurance coverage for IVF, wider use of minimal stimulation IVF especially the younger patients who have had great success with it and minimizing the number of embryos transferred.  

At Long Island IVF we encourage single embryo transfer by eliminating the cost of cryopreservation and embryo storage for one year for patients who transfer one fresh embryo.  In addition, we offer those patients up to three frozen embryo transfers for the price of one within a year of their retrieval or until they have a live birth. 

It is my sincere wish that the government can step in to enforce a policy that will never again allow for the possibility of another Jon and Kate debacle. 

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Was this helpful in answering your questions about multiple pregnancies, IVF, IUI, and Micro-IVF?  Please share your thoughts about this podcast here. And ask any questions and Dr. Kreiner will answer them.

 

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Cryopreservation: A Look into the IVF Freezer

By Tracey Minella and David Kreiner MD

December 13th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Remember the Good Humor man? You’d hear that sound from blocks away and bolt out the door barefoot, shrieking “STAAAPPP!” arms flailing, and being joined by the rest of the block like rats to the Pied Piper.

Remember the way the white square door with the chunky silver hinge on the back swung open and all that cold, smoky fog billowed out into the humid air?

Remember the frozen magic inside?

Well, Long Island IVF and East Coast Fertility have magic freezers, too. Full of dreams. Full of potential. Full of embryos that may one day turn out to be rugrats running after the ice cream man.

In fact, Long Island IVF’s freezer once held the frozen embryo that turned out to be Long Island’s first cryo baby! Let’s revisit an earlier post by Dr. Kreiner which lets us take a peek inside the freezer of Long Island’s first successful cryopreservation program:

In 1985, my mentors, Drs. Howard W. Jones Jr. and his wife Georgeanna Seegar Jones, the two pioneers of in-vitro fertilization in the USA and the entire western hemisphere, proposed the potential benefits of cryopreserving or freezing embryos following an IVF cycle. They predicted that cryopreserving embryos for future transfers would increase the overall success rate of IVF and make the procedure more efficient and cost effective. They also suggested that it would reduce the overall risks of IVF. For example, one fresh IVF cycle might yield many embryos which can be used in future frozen embryo transfer cycles, if necessary. This helps to limit the exposure to certain risks confronted only in a fresh IVF cycle such as the use of injectable stimulation hormones, the egg retrieval operation, and general anesthesia.

At East Coast Fertility, we are realizing the Jones’ dream of safer, more efficient and cost effective IVF. By utilizing the ability to cryopreserve embryos in 2007, 61.5% (118/192) of patients under 35 were successful in having a live birth as a result of only one egg stimulation and retrieval cycle! In addition, because of our outstanding Embryology Laboratory, we are usually able to transfer as few as 1 or 2 high quality embryos per cycle and avoid risky triplet pregnancies. In fact, since 2002, the only triplet pregnancies we have experienced have resulted from the successful implantation of two embryos, one of which goes on to split into identical twins (this is rare!). By cryopreserving embryos in certain high-risk circumstances, we are able to vastly reduce the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome requiring hospitalization. At East Coast Fertility, safety of our patients comes first. Fortunately, our success with frozen embryo transfers is equivalent to that of fresh embryo transfers, so that pregnancy rates are not compromised in the name of safety, nor are the babies.

Today, as reported in the Daily Science: “The results are good news as an increasing number of children, estimated to be 25% of assisted reproductive technology (ART) babies worldwide, are now born after freezing or vitrification” (a process similar to freezing that prevents the formation of ice crystals).

The study, led by Dr Ulla-Britt Wennerholm, an obstetrician at the Institute for Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy (Goteborg, Sweden), reviewed the evidence from 21 controlled studies that reported on prenatal or child outcomes after freezing or vitrification.

She found that embryos that had been frozen shortly after they started to divide (early stage cleavage embryos) had a better, or at least as good, obstetric outcome (measured as preterm birth and low birth weight) as children born from fresh cycles of IVF (in vitro fertilization) or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). There were comparable malformation rates between the fresh and frozen cycles. There were limited data available for freezing of blastocysts (embryos that have developed for about five days) and for vitrification of early cleavage stage embryos, blastocysts and eggs.

Slow freezing of embryos has been used for 25 years and data concerning infant outcome seems reassuring with even higher birthweights and lower rates of preterm and low birthweights than children born after fresh IVF/ICSI. For the newly introduced technique of vitrification of blastocysts and oocytes, very limited data have been reported on obstetric and neonatal outcomes. This emphasises the urgent need for properly controlled follow-up studies of neonatal outcomes and a careful assessment of evidence currently available before these techniques are added to daily routines. In addition, long-term follow-up studies are needed for all cryopreservation techniques,’ concluded Dr Wennerholm.

The use of frozen embryos has become a common standard of care in most IVF Programs. At East Coast Fertility, [now merging with Long Island IVF], we are able to keep multiple pregnancy rates down – by only transferring one or two embryos at a time – while allowing patients to hold on to the additional embryos that they may have created during the fresh cycle. It is like creating an insurance plan for patients. We developed a unique financial incentive program using the technology of cryopreservation to encourage patients to transfer only one healthy embryo at a time.

In order to ensure the best outcome for mother and child – these special pricing plans take the burden off the patient to pay for the additional transfers and the cryopreservation process. We have eliminated the cost of cryopreservation, storage and embryo transfer for patients in the single embryo transfer program. Thus, patients no longer have that financial pressure to put all their eggs in one basket! We truly believe we are practicing the most successful, safe and cost effective IVF utilizing cryopreservation.

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Did you know before today that Long Island IVF is the home of Long Island’s first cryo baby?

Or that East Coast Fertility’s Director, Dr. Kreiner, and Long Island IVF’s Co-Directors, Drs. Kenigsberg and Brenner were running the show together at Long Island IVF way back then when cryo first came to Long Island…back when most of you reading this were very little kids?

Stay tuned as we bring you more interesting history about these IVF pioneers now that they’re all together again.

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