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Hum Reprod. 2013 Apr;28(4):924-8. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des448. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Increased risk of preterm birth in singleton pregnancies after blastocyst versus Day 3 embryo transfer: Canadian ART Register (CARTR) analysis.

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1
CReATe Fertility Center, 790 Bay Street, Suite 1100, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1N8.

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:

Are the fetal outcomes of singleton pregnancies that result from cleavage stage embryo transfer (ET) different from the outcomes from Day 5/6 blastocyst stage ET?

SUMMARY ANSWER:

There was a significantly higher risk of preterm birth (<37 weeks) in singletons after extended embryo culture (Day 5/6) compared with cleavage stage (Day 3) transfer.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:

Two recent studies, from Sweden and the USA, reported an increased risk of preterm birth in singleton pregnancies after Day 5/6 ET compared with Day 3 ET. The US study also showed increased early preterm births and the Swedish study showed increased fetal malformations in this group.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE AND DURATION:

A retrospective cohort study was performed. Data were collected from the Canadian ART Register database for all singleton births after fresh IVF/ICSI ET cycles (2001-2009).

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS:

A total of 12 712 singleton births were included. Of these, 9506 resulted from a Day 3 ET and 3206 resulted from a blastocyst (Day 5/6) ET.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:

Preterm birth rate <37 weeks (unadjusted by potential confounding factors) was higher with Day 5/6 versus Day 3 transfers (17.2 versus 14.1%, P < 0.001). Using logistic regression analysis to adjust for confounding factors, preterm birth rate <37 weeks was the only outcome significantly increased after Day 5/6 compared with Day 3 transfer (odds ratio 1.32, 95% confidence interval 1.17-1.49). The following confounding factors were adjusted for: year of treatment (2001-2009), maternal age (continuous), parity (0 versus ≥1 birth), diagnosis category, number of oocytes retrieved [≤20 versus >20 (high responder group)], insemination method (IVF versus ICSI), number of embryos transferred (1, 2 or ≥3) and the presence of a vanishing twin (≥1 fetal heart on the initial ultrasonographic examination).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION:

Post-natal follow-up studies will be required to determine if this difference we observed translates into adverse long-term effects on these offspring. The rate of early preterm births (<32 weeks) was higher in Day 5/6 versus Day 3, but the low number of cases in this category did not have the power to show a difference (3.0 versus 2.7%, P = 0.34).

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:

We found a significantly higher risk of preterm birth (<37 weeks) in singletons after extended embryo culture (Day 5/6) compared with cleavage stage (Day 3) transfer, even when adjusting for confounding factors. Our findings are in agreement with the previous two studies; however, we did not show a difference in the very preterm deliveries (unlike the US study) or in fetal malformations (as in the Swedish study). We hypothesize that there may be a deleterious effect of prolonged in vitro embryo culture on subsequent placentation. Longer term follow-up studies will be required to determine if prolonged in vitro culture to the blastocyst stage has an adverse effect on the long-term health of offspring when compared with shorter cleavage stage culture.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S):

None.

PMID:
23349411
DOI:
10.1093/humrep/des448
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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