At present "reproductive tourists" travel to Italy to take advantage of its lack of regulations for IVF techniques, but this could be reversed if the Italian senate ratifies proposals that would encourage multiple pregnancies, according to Dr Karl Nygren, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sofiahemmet Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden.
On Wednesday 3 July he will tell the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna that more European countries are moving towards a reduction in the numbers of embryos transferred to a woman's womb in each cycle, and that this is having no effect on the number of resulting pregnancies, which are continuing to rise gradually1.
"It is very good news that trends are continuing to move towards more effective and safer treatments in Europe," he said. "These trends prove that it is not necessary to transfer several embryos at one time into a woman's womb in order to achieve a successful pregnancy. For instance, in Sweden doctors never transfer three or more embryos at one time, yet we have one of the highest pregnancy rates per transfer in Europe at 36%.
"In the light of these findings it seems doubly unfortunate for the Italians to be proposing to take a retrograde step which could result in women becoming pregnant with triplets2. Their proposals would lead to a reduction in efficacy and would endanger the safety of the mothers and babies. Once Italian women realise this they will go to other countries for ART a womb drain that would reverse the current direction in reproductive tourism."
Dr Nygren and Dr Anders Nyboe Andersen, Head of the Fertility Clinic at the Rigshospitalet at Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark, will be presentin
Contact: Emma Mason
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology