Is there any connection between Grade C embryos and the risk of birth defects ?

A patient asked me this question.

Can Grade A embryos result in abnormalities in the baby ? Or do only Grade C results in abnormalities ?

Sadly, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about embryo grading . Most embryologists are not skilled enough to be able to grade embryos properly, and because many IVF specialists have never set foot in the lab , they don't really understand what embryo grades mean. And if the IVF doctor is so confused, it's hardly surprising that patients are completely in the dark.

Embryo grades are basically lab shorthand for describing the appearance of the embryo - how it looks under the microscope . There is no correlation between birth defects and the grade of the embryo . Top quality embryos have a better chance of implanting and becoming a baby , but even if a poor quality embryo does implant, the risk of that baby having a birth defect is not increased !

This is why IVF patients should insist that the IVF clinic give them photos of their embryos, so they understand on what basis the grading is being done . Sadly, most IVF lab don't bother to provide photos, and their grading is very arbitrary, because they can say what they like, and they know they can get away with this !

Thus, they tell the patient - we have transferred 3 Grade A embryos for you - without even telling the patient how many cells the embryo had ! The poor patient is forced to trust the doctor, because they don't know any better - and it's too late to do much about this now, because you've already paid your fees !

All good IVF clinics provide photos to all their patients routinely and proactively, because it helps to increase the trust their patients have in them.

Being able to see your embryo photos allows you to compare them with an atlas of embryos, so you can check the grading for yourself - and no, you don't need to become an embryologist to do this ! This transparency will help increase your trust in your doctor.

Bad IVF clinics fail to provide this basic information , and this just creates a lot of confusion and misunderstanding for the poor patient.

Don't allow your doctor to get away with hiding information from you ! You have a right to this, and your medical records are your property ! The doctor is not doing you a favour by giving them to you !

You can see what embryos should look like at

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.