Black Women Experiencing Lower Birth Rates in FET Cycles

Washington, DC- A study presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Society Scientific Congress today delved into the effects of race on live birth rates for patients of frozen-thawed blastocyst transfer cycles, continuing existing research on racial disparities in invitro-fertilization.  

Frozen-thawed blastocyst transfer (FET) cycles are a type of invitro-fertilization (IVF) treatment in which a cryopreserved embryo created in a full IVF cycle is thawed and transferred to the uterus. Since it is only safe to transfer one or two embryos at a time, FET cycles can be effective for couples wishing to preserve embryos from an IVF cycle where several embryos were created. FET cycles can also be used when fresh cycles are cancelled due to risk. Cryopreserved embryos may be transferred after a fresh IVF transfer fails or in order to induce a second pregnancy.  

Previous studies of fresh IVF cycles demonstrate lower pregnancy rates in black compared to white women, whereas a small FET study from a single site showed comparable pregnancy rates. However, a study had not yet been done to examine these disparities on a national scale. 

Utilizing data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, researchers from the University of Connecticut, the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services, the Veterans Administration of Kensington and Boston IVF, analyzed 7,002 SART FET cycles from 2014-2016 and found significant racial disparities in live-birth rates. While live-birth rate was significantly lower in Black versus White and Asian groups, it was comparable in Hispanic groups. Similarly, implantation rate and clinical loss rate were higher among Black patients, but there was no significant difference between groups in multiple pregnancy rate or clinical pregnancy rate. 

“Understanding the racial disparities in outcomes of different IVF treatments is a critical first step in assuring access to care for all patients. Due to lower implementation rates and higher clinical loss rates, Black women are experiencing disproportionate barriers in pregnancy through IVF.” Said Michael Thomas, MD, ASRM Secretary and Chair of the ASRM Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force. 

For almost a century, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has been the global leader in multidisciplinary reproductive medicine research, ethical practice, and education. ASRM impacts reproductive care and science worldwide by creating funding opportunities for advancing reproduction research and discovery, by providing evidence-based education and public health information, and by advocating for reproductive health care professionals and the patients they serve. With members in more than 100 countries, the Society is headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional operations in Birmingham, AL.

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National statistics from SART member clinics that reported their data through SART.