Doctors perform more IVF treatments, but multiple births decline

Lausanne, Switzerland: The latest figures on in vitro fertilization in Europe reveal the welcome news that while the number of IVF treatment cycles has increased, the number of multiple births is decreasing.

Dr Karl Nygren and Dr Anders Nyboe Andersen told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Lausanne today (Tuesday, 3 July) that figures gathered by the ESHRE consortium of IVF researchers from 18 European countries showed that treatment cycles had increased by 14% to 232,225 between 1997 and 1998. The largest increase was in Germany, Italy, Russia and Belgium.

The total number of multiple births had decreased during the same period from 29.6% to 26.3% per embryo transfer. Of these, the proportion of twin deliveries had fallen from 25.8% to 23.9%, and the proportion of triplet births had fallen from 3.6% to 2.3%.

Dr Nygren, of the Sofia Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, said: "Multiple pregnancies are risky for both the mother and the fetuses, so it is very good news that the number of multiple births is decreasing. Health professionals are pleased about this, and patients should be too.

"Furthermore, although the number of multiple deliveries has decreased, the average pregnancy rate has risen over the same period from 26% to 27%. This means that although fewer embryos are being transferred to the mother, the efficacy of IVF treatment has remained roughly the same. This is very good news."

This is the second year that the ESHRE consortium of IVF researchers has collected data from the European countries that are running registers on their IVF results. The report is prepared by Dr Nygren and his colleague Dr Andersen who is from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark. It covers IVF treatments during 1998 with pregnancy follow-up through 1999.

The consortium has been encouraged in its work with the news that the number of clinics reporting their results has risen by 8%

Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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