Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30 Years After 1st "Test-Tube Baby," Economy May Be Biggest Obstacle for Infertile Couples

Arizona couples waiting longer to seek help, says Phoenix expert, although $99 test could help

PHOENIX, April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Thirty years after the first American baby from in vitrofertilization (IVF), Arizona's economic woes have all but replaced the limits of medical know-how as the chief reason infertile couples aren't seeking help, says the medical director of Arizona's largest fertility clinic.

"Compared to the early days, today's chances of IVF success are about five times greater," says Dr.Drew Moffitt, of Arizona Reproductive Medicine Specialists (ARMS). "But in 17 years of practice, I'm seeing patients waiting the longest ever before coming to us."

The trend is high in the minds of fertility doctors this week, designated as National Infertility Awareness Week by the patient advocacy group RESOLVE just months from the 30th birthday of America's first IVF baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, born December 1981, in Norfolk, Virginia.

In Arizona, demand for IVF – a procedure rarely covered by health insurers – peaked in 2007 at 1,837 treatments or cycles statewide, according to statistics published by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. In 2009, the most recent year for published data, the number dropped to 1,798.

Recent technology could spare the heartache of waiting too long, Moffitt said. A new $99 test indicates the state of a woman's biological clock, potentially leading to better-informed decisions about the timing of parenting.

The Ovarian Assessment Report (OAR) uses a blood test and an ultrasound examination to indicate the state of a woman's egg supply. Egg quality and quantity decrease with age – by age 35, women often face a sharp decline in fertility.

The test "won't tell you that you have 10 years left to get pregnant," Moffitt said. "But it will tell you if your basket of eggs is getting critically low." ARMS is introducing it to Arizona as part of a "Biological Check" program. Some patients may qualify for free testing under a research program.



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