British Fertility Society reaction to HFEA multiple births report

The British Fertility Society welcomes the Human Fertility & Embryology Authority’s latest report on multiple birth rates, which finds a dramatic fall in multiple birth rates over the last few years while maintaining and recently even increasing birth success rates.

The report found that clinics are increasingly using elective single embryo transfer (eSET) techniques, and that correspondingly multiple birth rates are falling. The British Fertility Society recognises that advances in IVF over the last decade have shown that eSET can be achieved without adversely impacting on pregnancy rates. We hope that using eSET becomes even more part of routine practice in clinics and that responsible professionals continue to do all they can to minimise multiple births through good clinical practice.

Multiple births are one of the greatest health risks for patients undergoing fertility treatment. Twins born through IVF are at greater risk of disease and death compared to single babies as they are more likely to be born prematurely and have a lower birth weight. Multiple births are more common through fertility treatment compared to natural conception because multiple embryos can be transferred during IVF treatment to increase the likelihood of pregnancy.

Professor Adam Balen, Chairman of the British Fertility Society said:

“The British Fertility Society has been fully behind the initiative to lower the rate of multiple pregnancy by reducing the number of embryos transferred during IVF treatments.”

“It is pleasing to see that success rates have not been compromised by elective single embryo transfer and indeed continue to rise, which is credit to the expertise of embryologists around the UK and the skill of the clinical teams.”

“The decline in multiple pregnancy rates not only significantly lowers the risk to babies conceived through IVF but also reduces the burden on special care units for premature babies. The financial benefits to the NHS should now be translated into improving the funding available for fertility treatments, which still varies hugely around the country and falls far short of what is required.”