White women are more likely to have babies following IVF treatment than women from other ethnic backgrounds, research suggests.
The study found that 43.8% of European white women went on to have a baby after their first cycle of fertility treatment, including in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intro-cytoplasmic sperm injection.
This compared to just 35% of women from other ethnic backgrounds.
The research, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, examined 1,500 women between 2006 and 2011.
The authors, from Nottingham University, found a similar trend in pregnancy rates after treatment, with 47.9% of white women falling pregnant compared to 38.5% of women from other backgrounds.
Noticeable differences were also noted among women from ethnic backgrounds.
For example, 38% of South East Asian women fell pregnant after treatment compared to just over a fifth of Middle Eastern Asian women and almost a quarter of African-Caribbean women, the authors said.
Lead researcher Dr Walid Maalouf said: “Our data indicates that live birth rates, clinical pregnancy rates and implantation rates following fertility treatment, particularly IVF, are significantly lower in ethnic women when compared to white Europeans.
“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.”
John Thorp, BJOG deputy editor-in-chief, added: “We know that the main aim of couples undergoing fertility treatment is to achieve a healthy baby and findings from this study are helpful in understanding that ethnicity may be a significant indicator for success following such treatment.
“It is important that women are fully aware of their realistic chances of success when undergoing any form of assisted reproductive therapy and this information could help clinicians better inform and counsel patients.
“Furthermore, evidence of more realistic success rates of women undergoing fertility treatment could be used to encourage women from ethnic backgrounds to seek treatment earlier and improve the likelihood of a positive pregnancy outcome.”
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