Marquette, Mich.04/25/2018– As part of National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is encouraging Michigan residents and providers to learn more about the health implications of infertility and therapies such as assisted reproductive technology (ART).

Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying, or six months if a woman is over 35 years old. It affects 7.3 percent of Michigan adults – 10.1 percent of women and 4.8 percent of men – between ages 18-50 years.

“Infertility, or the inability to have one’s own biological children, can be a devastating condition,” said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director. “To address this, Michigan has been working to help remove the barriers that stand in the way of building families as well as improve access to and quality of reproductive health care provided to mothers and their babies conceived through assisted reproductive technology fertility treatments in Michigan.”

In 2016, MDHHS convened a statewide summit of stakeholders from MDHHS, public and private health, nonprofits, hospitals, universities, professional organizations and others. The event was designed to raise awareness about ART’s contribution to multiple births and preterm birth in Michigan and develop recommendations to improve ART practices and birth outcomes. As a result of that meeting, the Michigan Action Plan for Infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology (MiART) plan was developed.

ART involves fertility treatments in which the provider handles both the sperm and eggs, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). While both preterm birth and low birthweight are common among all multiples births, the incidence of both is higher among ART infants. Among ART-conceived infants in Michigan in 2013, 37.4 percent were born preterm and 30.1 percent were low birthweight, compared with 11.6 percent and 8.2 percent of all infants born in Michigan respectively.

The MiART plan’s recommendations cover four categories: provider practice, policy/insurance coverage, patient education and impact of non-ART treatments. The Michigan Infertility Advisory Committee, housed within MDHHS, is working to prioritize the recommendations for action in the coming year.

Recommendations include:

  • Facilitating geographic access to ART therapies by increasing the number of providers in certain areas of the state that administer ART/IVF.
  • Working with medical insurers, health plans, employers, public health and medical stakeholders, healthcare consumer groups and elected officials to provide insurance coverage for ART/IVF.
  • Educating elected officials and policymakers about infertility as a disease and its health implications and officially recognizing infertility as a disease.
  • Establishing surveillance of the use of non-ART therapies and resulting pregnancy and birth outcomes.

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