Mar 11, 2024 - News

Spotlight on IVF in California

Assisted reproductive technology procedures performed per 1 million women in 2021
Note: Assisted reproductive technology refers to all treatments or procedures that include the handling of human eggs or embryos to help a woman become pregnant; Reproduced from the CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than 11,000 babies were born in California in 2021 using assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization, according to the most recent CDC data.

  • Providers performed about 24,500 embryo transfers to get that number of infants, which accounted for 2.7% of all births statewide that year.

The big picture: Alabama recently passed legislation to protect patients and doctors involved in IVF after the state's Supreme Court ruled weeks earlier that frozen embryos created through IVF are children under state law.

  • Since IVF typically takes more than one embryo to achieve pregnancy safely, that ruling meant fertility clinics could be held legally liable for disposing of unused embryos, Axios' Carly Mallenbaum reports.

Why it matters: If laws prohibit clinics from discarding embryos, IVF could become even more expensive, time consuming, and physically and emotionally draining.

State of play: Other states are considering so-called fetal personhood bills, while California lawmakers are trying to protect and expand access to IVF.

Between the lines: IVF patients usually need multiple embryos to ensure just one healthy baby because the process often involves embryo attrition, Lucky Sekhon, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at RMA of New York, tells Axios.

  • Sekhon says three or more embryos may be required for a patient to have one pregnancy.
  • In an ideal scenario, she says, about one-half to two-thirds of the embryos that thaw and pass genetic testing lead to pregnancy.

Zoom in: UC San Diego School of Medicine scientists found a new, noninvasive approach to IVF treatment that doctors can use to better predict the quality of lab-grown embryos and potentially identify the ones most likely to result in a successful pregnancy.

  • The recently published method detects and analyzes small particles of genetic material, called exRNAs, that are left behind in the liquid young embryos are grown in, according to the university.
  • "Unfortunately, IVF success still involves a big element of chance, but that's something we're hoping our research can change," UCSD professor and reproductive endocrinologist H. Irene Su said in a statement.

Go deeper: Why successful IVF often requires making multiple embryos for one baby.

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