The Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE), the British Fertility Society (BFS), The Multiple Births Foundation (MBF) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) are aware of the decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to withdraw the licence condition requiring UK IVF clinics to achieve the multiple birth target set by the HFEA.

The UK multiple births policy was developed by a stakeholder group comprising representatives of professional bodies and the HFEA. In 2008 a mission statement was published, and the ACE and BFS published joint guidelines to help clinics meet multiple birth targets. In January 2009 the policy came into force and in 2011, the HFEA introduced a range of initiatives with requirements to support clinics in the reduction of the overall multiple birth rates which includes guidance in the Code of Practice. The standard licence condition was introduced later to reinforce the policy.

Since 2009, the HFEA and the Multiple Birth Stakeholder Group have continued to set the multiple-birth targets jointly. Since that time we have seen significant progress in the reduction of multiple births and the current target is 10%. In 2013 the principle of minimizing multiple births was given backing by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, in their revised guidelines for management of infertile couples. There is broad international consensus among IVF practitioners that multiple births need to be reduced.

The ACE, BFS, MBF and RCOG believe that advances in IVF over the last decade have shown that elective single embryo transfer (eSET) can be achieved without adversely impacting on pregnancy rates. They consider that eSET is now part of routine practice in the majority of clinics and that responsible professionals will continue to do all they can to minimize multiple births through good clinical practice.

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Notes for editors:

The Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE) is the UK’s only professional body representing embryologists and now has in excess of 800 members. For more information, please visit https://www.embryologists.org.uk/Media/for_media

The British Fertility Society is a national multidisciplinary organisation representing professionals practising in the field of reproductive medicine. For general information, please visit our website: http://www.fertility.org.uk

The Multiple Births Foundation works with professionals to raise awareness of the complexities and special needs of multiple birth families and how to meet them by providing parents with information, advice and support. For more information, please visithttp://www.multiplebirths.org.uk/

The RCOG is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. For more information, please visithttp://www.rcog.org.uk/

One at a time is a professionally-led site aimed at reducing the risks of multiple pregnancies from fertility treatment. More information is available on its website: http://www.oneatatime.org.uk/index.htm

Elective single embryo transfer is increasingly being used around the world as a strategy to reduce multiple births, for further information about worldwide practice see: http://www.oneatatime.org.uk/124.htm

The joint BFS and ACE guidelines for single embryo transfer in IVF treatment are available on the BFS website:http://www.fertility.org.uk/news/pressrelease/08_09-SingleEmbyoGuidelines.html