Stephanie Saul’s New York Times’ article, The Gift of Life, and Its Price, affected me on a personal level. As an obstetrician and a victim of infertility, I am well versed with the inherent risks of IVF. Saul describes the exorbitant costs of fertility treatments and the increased complications of multiple births. We are still recovering from the aftermath of Nayda Suleman’s controversial delivery. It’s miraculous that neither Suleman nor her eight babies died.
In Saul’s article, we follow the Mastera family who conceived twins through in Vitro Fertilization after four failed attempts using artificial insemination. The twins subsequently delivered prematurely at 32 weeks and were in the neonatal intensive care unit for approximately 51 days at a cost of $1.2 million dollars. The average cost of an IVF cycle ranges from $12,000 to $25,000. Is there any wonder why there is a low compliance to follow the prescribed guidelines and attempt conception with just one embryo when the chances of a live birth are improved with two? Unfortunately, the greater the number of embryos, the greater the risk of preterm deliveries, therefore having a twin pregnancy is not a benign act. Even WITHOUT the benefit of IVF, a twin pregnancy is a high risk condition.
Twins are notorious for delivering prematurely, have an increased risk of the placenta separating too soon, increase the mother’s chances of developing hypertension and 30% end up in the NICU. Twin pregnancies should be managed by high-risk obstetricians (aka maternal fetal specialists), yet I am amazed at how many of my OB colleagues attempt to manage these pregnancies alone.
Coping with infertility is an emotional roller coaster, a ride I know all too well. In the end, my husband and I chose adoption and are the proud parents of two rambunctious little boys.
For those who are considering IVF, less is sometimes better than more. Should you opt to use more than one embryo and successfully conceive, PLEASE place your pregnancy in the hands of a skilled maternal fetal medicine specialist. I promise you won’t regret it.