Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area clinic turns to clean air for in vitro fertilization success
San Ramon, Calif. – When one of the first fertility clinics in the Bay Area moves to its new home next month, one of the newest – and arguably most innovative – features is one that can’t be seen. As part of Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area’s (RSCBA) multimillion-dollar build, a considerable investment in technology and facility design has been dedicated to providing the best possible air quality to support embryo growth and development.
“We’re obligated to our patients to pursue all avenues for in vitro fertilization and our investment in air quality is part of that mission,” says Dr. Louis Weckstein, medical director at RSCBA. “Thirty years ago, women bet their life savings on long odds for fertility treatments. Today, we’re seeing IVF pregnancy rates well above 50 percent largely due to pioneering efforts to understand the environments and conditions required for embryonic development.”
Embryos grown for IVF outside the uterus are vulnerable to airborne embryotoxic contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), known to negatively affect IVF success.
Since the mid-1990s, scientists have emphasized the significance of optimizing air quality for the culture of human gametes and embryos, when rapid decline in IVF success became associated with construction in or near the laboratory. Later research shows that air quality plays a crucial role in IVF success. For example, smokers require twice as many IVF attempts as non-smokers; low IVF success rates have also been linked to the presence of nitrogen dioxide pollution.
RSCBA teamed with consulting firm Alpha Environmental to provide expertise in design, construction and scientific analysis, to significantly improve IVF laboratory air quality.
According to RSCBA lab director Dr. Kristen Ivani, the focus on lab design and safety far exceed the standards set by the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). “This investment is much more than a new air purification system. The new lab environment must be able to detoxify, support cellular growth and provide the same biological mechanisms as would be supplied by the mother.
“All building products for our new facility, including furniture, paint, flooring and window coverings were carefully screened and selected for their low VOC’s in an effort to minimize any effects on our precious embryos.”