Bristol study numbers keep climbing

  • 26 April 2022

One year after being relaunched following a COVID-forced suspension, researchers working on a major study into the factors affecting IVF treatment success have recruited their 350th participant.

The team, led by National Institute for Health and Care Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC) researchers at the University of Bristol, is looking to recruit a total of 1,500 women and their partners to take part in the project.

Funding for the BRIST-IVF study has been extended due to a year-long pause because of COVID and, with extra funding from the European Research Council, is now in place until November 2025. Researchers hope this will be enough time to recruit and work with the remaining participants.

All women and their partners who are undergoing IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM) are eligible to take part. The aim of the project is to identify factors that play a part in whether IVF treatment is successful or not.

Amanda Jefferys, medical director at BCRM, said:

“In choosing to allow the researchers to access certain information about their pregnancies, patients who are undergoing IVF or ICSI fertility treatments at our clinic are providing valuable data which will hopefully enable the BRIST-IVF team to identify factors which might improve the chances of such treatments having a successful outcome for couples who pursue the same path in future.”

Eligible patients are invited to take part by members of the team based at the clinic in Aztec West.

Research midwives Naomi Mallinson and Annie Deacon and research nurse Ashleigh Promnitz are available to explain the nature of the project to interested patients. They also take height, weight and blood pressure measurements, and collect urine and blood or saliva samples, during one of their scheduled treatment appointments at BCRM.

If study participants become pregnant, they and their partner are also invited to attend a pregnancy follow-up clinic at the University of Bristol and to take part in further follow-up after the birth of their baby. This part of the research aims to look at the longer-term health of women, their partners and children conceived via IVF or ICSI.

Deborah Lawlor, Professor of Epidemiology at Bristol Medical School and the NIHR Bristol BRC Perinatal and Reproductive Health theme lead, who is leading the study, said:

“IVF is increasingly common and successful live-birth rates have increased since it first started to be used in the 1970s. We can now expect at least one child in every UK primary school class to have been conceived by IVF.

“We are really grateful for the time and effort that couples have given so far to support this study. The research from it will help us to understand what can help IVF lead to a successful live birth.

“The follow-up at our university clinic will mean that we can compare how pregnancy progresses, and children conceived by IVF grow and develop in comparison to a group of similar age from the Children of the children of the 90s study.

“This will be one of the first studies of its type to have this important comparison group where parents and the children are followed with identical measures for both those conceived by IVF, from BRIST-IVF and those who are who are not conceived by IVF.”

Taking part in the BRIST-IVF study

If you are a patient about to undergo IVF or ICSI treatment at the BCRM, you are eligible to take part in the BRIST-IVF study. Find out more about taking part.