Unhealthy air quality secondary to wildfires is associated with lower blastocyst yield

Molly Kornfield, Elizabeth Rubin, Pamela Parker, Bharti Garg, Thomas O'Leary, Sara Phillips, Rachel Madding, Maureen Baldwin, Paula Amato, David Lee, Diana Wu, Sacha Krieg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To study the impact of unhealthy air quality from the 2020 Oregon wildfires on outcomes for patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Design: A retrospective cohort study. Setting: A university-based fertility clinic. Patients: Subjects were undergoing IVF treatment from the 6 weeks preceding the wildfires through a 10-day exposure period. Cohorts were classified on the basis of whether subjects experienced patient and/or laboratory exposure to unhealthy air quality. Patient exposure was defined as at least 4 days of ovarian stimulation overlapping with the exposure, and laboratory exposure was defined as at least 2 days of IVF treatment and embryogenesis overlapping with the exposure. The unexposed cohort consisted of remaining subjects without defined exposure, with cycles in the 6 weeks preceding the wildfires. As some subjects had dual exposure and appeared in both patient and laboratory exposure cohorts, each cohort was separately compared with the unexposed control cohort. Intervention: A 10-day period of unhealthy air quality caused by smoke plumes from a wildfire event. Main Outcome Measures: The primary outcome was the blastulation rate. Secondary outcomes included fertilization rate, number of blastocysts obtained, and cycles with no blastocysts frozen or transferred. Results: Sixty-nine subjects underwent ovarian stimulation and IVF treatment during the 6 weeks preceding the wildfires through the 10-day period of unhealthy air quality. Of these, 15 patients were in the laboratory exposure cohort, 16 were in the patient exposure cohort, and 44 were unexposed. Six subjects appeared in both laboratory and patient exposure cohorts. Although neither exposure cohort had significantly decreased blastulation rate compared with the unexposed, the median number of blastocysts obtained was significantly lower in the laboratory exposure cohort than the unexposed group (2 [range 0–14] vs. 4.5 [range 0–21], respectively). The laboratory exposure cohort had significantly more cycles with no blastocysts obtained (3/15 [20%] vs. 1/44 [2%]). There were no significant differences in IVF treatment outcomes between patient exposure and unexposed cohorts. These findings persisted after controlling for age. There were no significant differences in pregnancy outcomes observed after embryo transfer between the exposure group and the unexposed group. Conclusion: For a cohort of patients undergoing IVF treatment, an acute episode of outside wildfire smoke exposure during fertilization and embryogenesis was associated with decreased blastocyst yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-852
Number of pages11
JournalFertility and sterility
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024


  • IVF
  • Pollution
  • embryo
  • fertility
  • wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Unhealthy air quality secondary to wildfires is associated with lower blastocyst yield'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this