10 January 2011
ByAppeared in BioNews 590
Researchers have developed a calculator that they claim can be used to provide people who are having fertility problems with an assessment of the likelihood of having a successful outcome following IVF.
The calculator is based on the outcome data of 144,018 IVF cycles, which were collected between 2003 and 2007 by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). It can be accessed online for free (ivfpredict.com) and is in the process of being turned into an iPhone application.
The calculator uses couple-and treatment-specific factors to make assessments. It considers the woman's age, number of years trying to get pregnant, whether she is using her own eggs, cause of infertility, number of previous IVF cycles, whether ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is used and whether she has previously been pregnant or had a baby.
Professor Scott Nelson, creator of the model and Muirhead Chair of Reproductive and Maternal Medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: 'Essentially, these findings indicate that treatment-specific factors can be used to provide infertile couples with a very accurate assessment of their chance of a successful outcome following IVF.…up until now estimates of success have not been reliable'.
'In the US and the UK, IVF is successful in about a third of women under 35 years old but in only 5 percent to 10 percent of women over the age of 40. However, there are many other factors in addition to age which can alter your chance of success and clinics don't usually take these into account when counselling couples or women'.
The findings were welcomed by Professor Gordon Smith, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Cambridge University. He said: 'There is a real need in medicine to try and replace general statements such as 'high risk' and 'good chance' with well validated, quantitative estimates of probability, such as we have with Down's syndrome screening'.
'This model for predicting the outcome of IVF has exploited a valuable collection of routinely collected data, applies sophisticated statistical modelling and the output provides people considering IVF with an understandable and quantitative estimate of their chances of success. It is a great resource'.
However, before this new prediction model can be used to guide clinical decisions globally it needs to be validated using independent IVF data. The study was published in PLoS Medicine.