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IVF less successful for ethnic minorities, study finds

Linda Wijlaars

Progress Educational Trust

14 November 2013

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[BioNews, London]

The outcome of fertility treatment may be influenced by the ethnicity of the mother, a UK study has found. Women from ethnic minorities had significantly lower live birth rates after IVF compared to white European women (35 percent versus 44 percent). The results echo those from similar studies from the USA.

'Our data indicates that live birth rates, clinical pregnancy rates and implantation rates following fertility treatment, particularly IVF, are significantly lower in ethnic women when compared to white Europeans', said Dr Walid Maalouf from Nottingham University's Research and Treatment Unit in Reproduction (NURTURE), the lead author on the paper.

The team from NURTURE followed 1,517 women who underwent their first cycle of fertility treatment, using ICSI or conventional IVF, between 2006 and 2011. They collected data on pregnancy rates and live births, as well as information on other factors like smoking that are known to be associated with pregnancy outcomes.

Women from ethnic minorities were slightly more likely to be overweight, and had infertility problems for longer before seeking treatment compared with white women. However, they also smoked less and were slightly younger, which should have increased their chances of success. Instead, their treatment outcomes were significantly worse from the implantation stage onwards.

'The reason for the reduced implantation rates and subsequent reduced outcomes in the ethnic minority group is still unclear', said Dr Maalouf. 'Further research into genetic background as a potential determinant of IVF outcome, as well as the influencing effects of lifestyle and cultural factors on reproductive outcomes, is needed'.

The findings are in line with studies from the USA, which have found that women from African- or Asian-American minorities have lower rates of IVF success.

'Evidence of more realistic success rates of women undergoing fertility treatment could be used to encourage women from ethnic backgrounds to seek treatment earlier and improve the likelihood of a positive pregnancy outcome', said Dr John Thorp, editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology which published the paper.



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Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 14 November 2013   Date Updated: 14 November 2013
Customer Reviews (1)
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Shantal rajah   20 November 2013
low preg in ethnic minority women
I have noticed lower success in ethnic minority women too. Being an Asian origin of my self , I have noticed lot of ethnic minority women feel shame to accept they have fertility problem and try to hide to their in laws and family that they are seeking fertility help. Most of the families always have mother or in law living with them or have contacts everyday in their life. This causes lot of distraction and no rest when they go through their treatment cycles. I find few partners do not cooperate or give emotional support to their woman too and think it was a woman's problem. There are times the woman do not take the right dose of injection due to various reasons - such as not understanding the language, or confused and distracted due to family pressure or no support from the partner. I also found some women live their life with other problems such as diabetes or thyroid imbalance or anaemic or over weight without seeking medical help. These are the unspoken factors, I feel for this increase failure in ethnic women.


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