Research question: Discontinuation of IVF cycles has been part of the radical transformation of healthcare provision to enable reallocation of staff and resources to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. This study sought to estimate the impact of cessation of treatment on individual prognosis and US population live birth rates. Design: Data from 271,438 ovarian stimulation UK IVF cycles was used to model the effect of age as a continuous, yet non-linear, function on cumulative live birth rate. This model was recalibrated to cumulative live birth rates reported for the 135,673 stimulation cycles undertaken in the USA in 2016, with live birth follow-up to October 2018. The effect of a 1-month, 3-month and 6-month shutdown in IVF treatment was calculated as the effect of the equivalent increase in a woman's age, stratified by age group. Results: The average reduction in cumulative live birth rate would be 0.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.3–0.3), 0.8% (95% CI 0.8–0.8) and 1.6% (95% CI 1.6–1.6) for 1-month, 3-month and 6-month shutdowns. This corresponds to a reduction of 369 (95% CI 360–378), 1098 (95% CI 1071–1123) and 2166 (95% CI 2116–2216) live births in the cohort, respectively. Th e greatest contribution to this reduction was from older mothers. Conclusions: The study demonstrated that the discontinuation of fertility treatment for even 1 month in the USA could result in 369 fewer women having a live birth, due to the increase in patients’ age during the shutdown. As a result of reductions in cumulative live birth rate, more cycles may be required to overcome infertility at individual and population levels.


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Smith, A., Gromski, P., Al Rashid, K., Tilling, K., Lawlor, D. & Nelson, S. 2020, 'Population implications of cessation of IVF during the COVID-19 pandemic', Reproductive BioMedicine Online,, 41(3), pp. 428-430. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2020.07.002

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Last updated: 01 April 2023
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