British Fertility Society statement on the safety of IVF

10 August 2006

The British Fertility Society is saddened to hear about the death of a woman following a recent IVF procedure. Although it has not yet seen specific details about this case, and the extent to which the IVF procedure may have contributed to her death is currently unknown, the Society is issuing this statement on behalf of its members to provide information to couples who might be currently undergoing IVF or be about to in the future.

No medical procedure is totally risk-free but Assisted Conception Units in the UK have comprehensive risk management procedures in place to try and minimise the risks as far as possible. Life threatening risks are thankfully very rare.

The Chairman of the BFS, Dr Mark Hamilton said, “The BFS is sorry to hear of this tragic death and our sympathy is extended to the family. Worldwide more than 3 million babies have been born as a result of IVF. In the UK over 30,000 women receive IVF treatment each year and more than 10,000 children are born as a result. The procedures used in clinics are very safe and serious complications for patients are extremely rare*. Anyone with anxieties about their own treatment should contact staff at the clinic providing their care.”

Dr. Allan Pacey, Honorary Secretary said “IVF treatment is now a routine component of modern infertility care. The risk of serious harm from treatment is very small and similar to that of many minor operative procedures performed in hospitals every day.”

In August 2005, the BFS published a fact sheet on its website, to try and explain the risks associated with Assisted Conception Procedures and this can be found at: http://www.fertility.org.uk/public/factsheets/conceptionrisks.html


*Earlier this year the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) published statistics for Assisted Reproduction in Europe. This shows that in 2002, there were 2 maternal deaths out of 224,000 procedures. See the 2006 paper by Nyboe Andersen A., Gianaroli L., Felberbaum R., de Mouzon J. and Nygren K.G. at http://www.eshre.com/emc.asp?pageId=496. Maternal death figures are on page 8.