Risks of Assisted Hatching

Assisted Hatching is a procedure that may be used to assist in vitro fertilization procedures. It involves helping the embryo hatch out of the protective layers and making it attach itself safely to the uterus. This procedure is typically recommended for women under the age of 35 or for couples that have had one or several failed in vitro fertilization procedures. There are a few risks associated with assisted hatching, the most important being the damage to the embryo and the possibility of having a child with birth defects.

Damage to the Embryo

The assisted hatching is performed by using a micromanipulation technique to assist the embryo and help it hatch out of the protein layers it is covered in. The technique may cause damage to the embryo and in some cases it may kill the embryo. If the procedure doesn't kill the embryo, but the embryo is damaged, this may lead to complications with the fetus or birth defects. Ultrasounds may identify the presence of any possible defects in the fetus.

Infection of Embryo

Due to the fact that the coating of the embryo will be removed during the assisted hatching procedure, the embryo can easily become infected. The patient has to take antibiotics and steroids which will inhibit the immune system and prevent the infection.  

Conjoined Twins

The assisted hatching can cause the formation of conjoined twins. The embryo may be sliced in two, and these slices can then join, causing the formation of conjoined twins. It is possible to identify if there are conjoined twins by performing ultrasounds during the pregnancy.

Identical Twins

Even though this is not considered a risk, women that opt for assisted hatching are very likely to have identical twins or monozygotic twins. This happens because the embryo can split in two when the protective layers are removed.

Risks for the Mother

The assisted hatching may also lead to complications for the mother. The mother may experience hypertension or high blood pressure due to the assisted hatching procedure. Additional risks of the assisted hatching for the mother may include:

  • Infections
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irritability and sudden mood swings
  • Swelling of the face
  • Water retention
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Headaches
  • Reduced immunity and secondary infections

These are possible risks which are also due to the medication treatment that will be administered during the assisted hatching procedure. The medications include steroids and antibiotics.

Failure of Procedure

The assisted hatching is a complex procedure that requires a lot of experience and skill from the fertility doctor that performs it. It may happen that the procedure results in failure and has to be repeated. The success rates depend on the age of the women. In women age 35 and 40, the success rates are around 49%. In women over the age of 40, the success rates are much lower.

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