Results from a recent study shows in vitro fertilization (IVF), results vary between ethnic groups. The results, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology shows a relationship between a couple’s ethnicity and the clinical success of their IVF treatments.

Researchers from Nottingham University's Research and Treatment Unit in Reproduction, or NURTURE, studied 1,517 women undergoing their first cycle of fertility treatments either through IVF or through intro-cytoplasmic sperm injection, known as ICSI. Of the study participants, 85.1 percent were white Europeans and 14.9 were an ethnic minority group. Researchers gathered data between 2006 and 2001 then analyzed the information for live birth outcomes, defined as a viable infant born after 24 weeks of gestation. The study results showed that, at 35 percent, birth rates were significantly lower for ethnic minority women when compared to white European women, which demonstrated live birth rates of 43.8 percent.

Researchers also noted a significant difference in rates of implantation and clinical pregnancy, a stage in pregnancy where doctors can see signs of pregnancy on ultrasound exam. Implantation rates for white European women were 37.4 percent whereas the rates for women in the minority ethnic group were 22.6 percent. Implantation rates between the two groups were 47.9 percent versus 38.5 percent.

Authors of the study were able to look deeper into the minority ethnic group to discover trends within its subgroups. Live birth rates were 21.4 percent for Middle East Asian women, 23.3 percent for African-Caribbean women and 38 percent for South East Asian women.

Lead researcher in the paper Dr. Walid Maalouf said, "The reason for the reduced implantation rates and subsequent reduced outcomes in the ethnic minority group is still unclear. Further research into genetic background as a potential determinant of IVF outcome, as well as the influencing effects of lifestyle and cultural factors on reproductive outcomes, is needed...Subsequently, these findings could be used to modify clinical strategies in fertility treatments to increase success rates among all ethnic minority groups."

The researchers and publishers of BJOG hope the study will help women be aware of their realistic chances of success when undergoing assisted fertility procedures. John Thorp, BJOG deputy editor-in-chief, said he hoped the research results would “encourage women from ethnic backgrounds to seek treatment earlier and improve the likelihood of a positive pregnancy outcome."

Source: "Fertility treatment outcomes can be significantly influenced by mother's ethnicity." EurekAlert. 29 Oct 2013. Web. Retrieved 14 Nov 2013.