Russian Health Ministry expresses great expectation for Assisted Reproductive Technologies in trying to solve the issue of declining birth rate

28 May 2013

During the press conference last week Victoria Skvortsova, head of Russian Health Ministry, announced that the population growth estimate is quite pessimistic for Russia next year. However, Assisted Reproductive Technologies and especially In Vitro Fertilization, are expected to help solve this problem.

The numbers showing birth rate results were anticipated to go down right after 2012, when the country finally managed to equal birth and death rates for the first time in years, in other words, after just having stopped the population decline. The reason for the upcoming birth rate crisis was the decline of the 90-s, due to the political crisis and default, when a lot of women had put off giving birth until things got better. As a result, Russia is now facing a shortage of fertile female population.

The government has been taking recent population decline (zero growth at best) quite seriously. A number of reproductive programs have been launched during the last few years. According to Skvortsova, the Health Ministry will maintain family planning educational programs in order to decrease the number of abortions, especially among teenagers and very young women. Besides, they will also concentrate on supporting the implementation and development of Assisted Reproductive Technologies, which help the men and women with fertility problems to conceive. ART and IVF, being their significant part, have been proven to be effective and, if widely implemented, could make a great contribution to the reproductive recovery of Russia.

We have asked Dr. Victoria Zaletova, Chief Reproductive Therapist at MAMA Clinic, which is one of the oldest and leading reproductive centers in Russia, to comment on the situation:

"One single priority for all Assisted Reproductive Technologies programs is the birth of a healthy child. That is why we include the section called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis in our ART/IVF programs— in other words, we use special techniques and methods to detect possible genetic disorders of the embryo before its’ implantation into the mothers’ uterus. It involves taking a few cells from the 3 to 5 day embryo, extracting a nucleus, which contains all the necessary data, and then screening it in order to detect chromosomal disorders. For patients with severe disorders, we can also perform the structural examination. PDG (Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis) is recommended in the following cases:

— If a chromosomal abnormality has been detected in one or both parents, there is a high risk of inheriting it, which might be prevented by implanting only the healthy embryos.

— In cases of recurrent miscarriages, especially due to a fetal abnormality.

— In cases of IVF failures to determine whether or not a fetal abnormality causes them.

— If the mother is over 35. As a woman ages, egg quality tends to decline, and, therefore, the risk of the child having a chromosomal abnormality rises significantly. For example, the risk of having a child with Trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome) at the age of 40 is 10 times higher than at 25, and it is 40 times higher by the age of 45".