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Fertility Clinic Web Sites Often Ignore Guidelines

A fraction of fertility clinic Web sites conform to mandatory standards

THURSDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Although more fertility patients are seeking information on the Internet, the majority of fertility clinics belonging to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology are failing to follow mandatory guidelines for reporting success rates on their Web sites, researchers report in the January issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Mary E. Abusief, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues investigated the Web sites of all 384 clinics that were members of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. They evaluated the sites in regards to 2004 guidelines set by the society and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The researchers found that 289 clinics had working Web sites, and 51 percent of these published success rates, including 31 academic clinics and 117 private clinics. Only 2.8 to 54.5 percent of private clinic Web sites and 1.3 to 37.2 percent of academic clinic Web sites conformed to guidelines, which require that members report success rates in terms of live birth per cycle initiated and egg retrieval, among other rules.

Analysis of success rates "may require expertise not commonly held by patients new to fertility treatment," the authors write. "Although some Web sites do include information about how to interpret success rates, many other clinics do not differentiate success rates among younger and older patients or between donor and non-donor cycles."

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