Fertility and pregnancy * Babies and children

Online calculator predicts IVF success

Online calculator predicts IVF success Can help couples decide whether IVF treatment is likely to be successful

Women undergoing IVF can now use a free online calculator to predict their chances of having a baby.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow and the University of Bristol say it can predict a woman's chances of having a baby with up to 99 per cent accuracy.

All the woman has to do is answer nine questions online. The calculator takes into account the woman’s age; number of years trying to get pregnant; whether she is using her own eggs; cause of infertility; number of previous IVF cycles; and whether she has previously been pregnant or had a baby to predict whether IVF will be successful and result in the birth of a baby.

Couples can then decide whether IVF treatment is worth pursuing.

The team of researchers obtained data on more than 144,000 IVF cycles from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which they used to produce a statistical model which predicts the likeliehood of IVF success. All IVF cycles took place between 2003 and 2007.

Professor Scott Nelson, Muirhead Chair of Reproductive and Maternal Medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: "The result of this study is a tool which can be used to make incredibly accurate predictions.

“It provides critical information on the likely outcome for couples deciding whether to undergo IVF – up until now estimates of success have not been reliable.

“As is commonly known, not every attempt at IVF is successful. In the US and the UK, IVF is successful in about a third of women under 35 years old but in only 5 per cent to 10 per cent of women over the age of 40.

"However, there are many other factors in addition to age which can alter your chance of success and clinics don’t usually take these into account when counselling couples or women.”

Debbie Lawlor, professor of Epidemiology at the University of Bristol, also said the calculator not only helps couples trying to conceive, but also to "healthcare funders like the NHS to ensure appropriate use of resources."

The free calculator is available on the website ivfpredict.com. It is also in the process of being turned into a smart phone app.

The findings, published in the journal Public Library of Science, were welcomed by Professor Gordon Smith, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Cambridge University.

He said: “There is a real need in medicine to try and replace general statements such as ‘high risk’ and ‘good chance’ with well validated, quantitative estimates of probability, such as we have with Down's syndrome screening.

“This model for predicting the outcome of IVF has exploited a valuable collection of routinely collected data, applies sophisticated statistical modelling and the output provides people considering IVF with an understandable and quantitative estimate of their chances of success. It is a great resource.”

This article was published on Wed 5 January 2011

Image © ktsdesign - Fotolia.com

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