During in-vitro fertilization (IVF), healthcare providers harvest many eggs and implant a limited number of those embryos. While many mistakes at fertility clinics can lead to the loss of a pregnancy, errors can also put parents at risk if a doctor implants too many embryos.
How many embryos should a physician implant?
The correct number of embryos for a physician to implant in a patient depends on both the age of the patient and the quality of the embryos. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology offer guidelines for physicians. While these organizations may recommend that doctors implant as many as five embryos in IVF for older patients, recommendations for younger patients may be as low as a single embryo.
Why are these limits recommended?
If a physician implants more embryos than they should, it can increase the risk of a multiple birth. Multiple pregnancies can significantly increase the risk for the babies. Not only does the risk of congenital abnormalities double for multiple birth babies, these pregnancies also increase the risk of a number of other health conditions. Multiple birth babies are also more likely to be born prematurely and to require a C-section.
In addition, multiple pregnancies can severely impact mothers’ health. Mothers have additional nutritional needs to support the growth of multiple babies and may need additional care throughout the pregnancy. They are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure or anemia. Even if the children are born safely, mothers are at risk of hemorrhage after delivery.
If a doctor negligently implanted too many embryos, the impact on the health of both mother and children can be significant. Families may want to explore their legal options as they face these challenges.