0830 GMT February 22, 2020
Based on these finding, the study — undertaken last year — has recommended surveillance of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures across the country. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that pre-term births range between five to 18 percent and India accounts for maximum number of cases. The rate of Caesarean-sections nationally stands at an average of 17.2 percent as per the National Family Health Survey-4, indianexpress.com reported.
“There is an urgent need to develop national ART surveillance system in India, just like the one at the Center for Disease Control, Atlanta. They record each pregnancy through IVF and babies born out of it,” Dr. Anushree Patil of the NIRRH told The Indian Express.
Patil is the lead author of the study authored by 12 infertility experts that was published in the International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynaecology in March.
Of 113 couples, who underwent IVF across eight centers in Mumbai, 76.23 percent delivered premature babies and 98 percent required a Caesarean-section. Multiple gestation, meaning twins or triplets, were recorded in 45 percent of the cases.
“The high rate of multiple gestation can be correlated to high incidence of pre-term deliveries,” the research stated.
Pre-term birth, where a baby is delivered before 37 weeks of gestation, also indicates a higher cost of treatment. Coauthor Ameet S Patki said one participant in the study was a 38-year-old woman, who was trying for a second child since five years. Her ovarian volume and her husband’s sperm count were both low. While they conceived in the first IVF attempt, she developed complications in the 32nd week and delivered a premature baby, who required two weeks of neo-natal intensive care (NICU) unit care.
“Such babies can suffer from under-developed lungs or bleeding in brain. Chances of infections are high,” said pediatrician Dr. Bhupendra Avasthi. He added that mental retardation risk is greater in pre-term births.
A premature baby with poor lung functioning requires surfactant therapy, which according to WHO Global Action Report on Pre-term Birth can cost around Rs 40,000 per dose in India. The report also stated pre-term births account for 50 percent of neo-natal mortality in India.
“Any baby born between 33 to 36 weeks can be stabilized. It is difficult to manage babies weighing less than a kg, usually born before 29 weeks of pregnancy,” neonatalogist Dr. Nandkishor Kabra said.
NICU admission can cost between Rs 7,000 to Rs 9,000 per bed in private hospitals, in addition to intravenous fluid support and medication.
The research recorded that 69 percent couples opted for IVF, while 31 percent underwent intra cytoplasmic sperm injection to conceive. After conceiving, at least 45.1 percent women had antepartum hemorrhage, of which 35.9 percent suffered bleeding episodes during the first trimester.
“These are already high-risk pregnancies. Couples, who undergo ART, are usually older. Most have co-existent morbidities such as fibroids and endometriosis. Such factors, combined with ART procedures, lead to pre-term deliveries,” said Patki, also secretary general of Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction (ISAR).
Following this research, infertility experts in ISAR discussed the need to initiate single embryo implant as practiced in the UK. A multiple embryo implant, which increases success rate, however, also increases possibility of twins or triplets. This in turn poses a risk of pre-term birth.
In this study, the incidence of twins or triplets stood at three in 100 pregnancies as opposed to one in 30,000 pregnancies in the general population.
The ICMR currently has 392 ART clinics registered. While the Assistive Reproductive Technology Bill and Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill remains pending, advocate Varsha Deshpande said: “There is a need for government to frame monitory mechanism to keep IVF in check. There is no compulsion on registration of such centers in India giving them a free hand to practice.”