Most IVF clinics are in possession of abandoned frozen embryos when patients do not pay storage fees or don't communicate their disposition decisions. This presents the clinics with medical, legal and ethical conundrums. The study's objective was to identify patient characteristics that made embryo abandonment more likely to occur. They studied 132 key variables, including demographics, medical histories, IVF insurance coverage, embryology data, financial information and disposition decisions.
The researchers found seven statistically significant predictors of embryo abandonment. The two most relevant variables were the increasing number of children living at home and the length of time the embryos were stored. The risk of abandonment increased almost eight percent for every additional year stored. Other significant predictors included debt to the practice, not completing high school, IVF insurance coverage, a diagnosis of pelvic damage or endometriosis and a large number of cryopreserved embryos.
"There was only one published small study that didn't find any risk factors," said
The strengths of the study included the size, scope and level of detail examined. The statistical significance was also quite strong, suggesting real and not coincidental findings.
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