May PGS contribute to reduce multiple birth rate?

HFEA’s annual statistical report, released on March 2016, gathered fertility figures for cycles performed in the UK within 2014, plus live birth rates for cycles carried out in 2013. HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) is the national regulator for the British Fertility sector.

Among many other figures, the report highlights that general success rates keep on rising, with a slight increase in IVF birth rate from 25.9% in 2012 to 26.5% in 2013.

Sally Cheshire, chair of the HFEA, remarked that this increase took place while the multiple birth rate has fallen. A wider trend shows multiple births as frequent as one in four IVF births in 2008 to one in six in 2013.

Multiple IVF birth is the result of multiple embryo transfer in contrast to single embryo transfer (SET), a strategy intended to enhance the chances of an IVF pregnancy, but considered as kind of an undesirable side effect of IVF. In other words industry general consensus is that the desired outcome of an IVF treatment is a healthy singleton baby due to higher risk of pregnancy complications and premature delivery due to multiple pregnancies.

One of the available tools for backing a successful elective single embryo transfer is PGS, Preimplantation Genetic Screening. PGS is a genetic testing by which embryos are genetically screened to determine their chromosomal status, providing the chance to select for transfer those that are chromosomally normal, thus apt to implant into a successful pregnancy. In this way PGS can help reduce the “need” to go for a double embryo transfer in certain situations.

Bioarray performs PGS using the most advanced molecular technology available today: Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). Bioarray pioneered the application of NGS to PGS in 2014 and is since then providing this testing for European and South American IVF centres, with great clinical outcome.

Also, growing awareness in the industry on the issue of multiple IVF births is contributing to lowering the rates in UK and elsewhere, with great initiatives like HFEA’s ‘One at a time’ campaign.