In new research published in Reproductive BioMedicine Online, both American and Belgian researchers found that reduced costs and simplified IVF methods may mark a new era for IVF treatments. Yep, that's right: IVF will probably never again be as cost-crippling or drawn out as it is now.
Both the American and Belgian teams outlined the first results of a study performed in Genk, Belgium. They reported that the results of the study (which included a simple, reduced-cost IVF procedure) would not alter the need for surgical egg retrieval, embryo transfer, laboratory staffing and egg/embryo freezing. The new IVF procedure was used to replace the more expensive incubator systems. The results of the simplified method compared "favorably" with the typical reported IVF programs, researchers write.
So far, sixteen healthy babies have been delivered using the simplified technique — and it's expect that laboratory costs may be reduced, though no formal word has yet to confirm the cost reduction.
The study, part of the Walking Egg Project aiming to raise awareness surrounding involuntary childlessness in resource-poor countries, has the potential to open up a "new era in the history of IVF," not only changing the accessibility of IVF in resource-poor countries, but also "implicating the accessibility in developed countries where IVF is increasingly becoming available only to affluent couples."
The research comes on the heels of ongoing research that's found high IVF costs were to blame for keeping couples from family planning. At least 5,000 people (so 2,500 couples) surveyed felt that, yes, soaring rates for IVF treatments were impossible to afford, researchers in that study also noted that when it came time to having a child 82.6 percent of those surveyed admitted that financial concerns were their primary worry.
In 2013, scientists saw a breakthrough when they tested out a new IVF procedure that cost couples less than $300. The low-cost version of test-tube baby technology, intended for use in eveloping countries (where the sophisticated, high-end costs are entirely unaffordable), cost somewhere around $260 per treatment cycle and were able to deliver results that didn’t differ much with conventional IVF treatments. To really bring the numbers home: The simplified process was just 10 to 15 percent of the current cost of IVF in the westernized world.
Here's hoping scientists get closer and closer to cutting costs.
Why do you think IVF rates are so high?