Fertility Treatment is the Likely Cause of the Identical Triplets

Many are reporting today that a woman on Long Island gave birth to rare identical triplets.  She actually gave birth at one of my main hospitals and I know her Ob.  The story goes on to say she had IVF but only one embryo was replaced.  I was not her treating fertility doctor.  However, this event raises and important fact.  More and more fertility specialists are turning to a technique called blastocyst transfer.  Here we let the embryo grow and additional 2 days in the dish in the lab.  Instead of transferring it on day 3 we let it grow until day 5 (occasionally 6).  By letting them grow more each embryo that survives has a greater chance of implanting.  Therefore we can transfer less of them, reduce the risk of multiples (usually!) and keep pregnancy rates high.  The risk is if the embryos are not very strong then none may survive.

Why this may be the cause:   It has been know for some time that when we use this technique the rate of identical twins (ie a single embryo splits into two) is significantly great – up to 5% or so.  Therefore it makes perfect sense that the rate of identical triplets could rise as well.  Since a single embryo was transferred they say- this is usually done in blastocyst cases.

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