"It is also possible that as ICSI techniques have improved, patients and doctors are voting with their feet and using it in ever increasing numbers, despite any residual fears about its safety and the health of ICSI babies," said Dr Nyboe Andersen.
The quality and efficacy of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in Europe is steadily improving according the 2002 figures.
Chairman of the committee, Professor Karl Nygren, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sofiahemmet Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, said: "During the six year period from 1997 to 2002 there has been a minor decline in twin birth rates, and triplet birth rates have fallen from 3.6% to 1.3% after IVF and ICSI. For the first time we are seeing the impact of patients and doctors choosing to implant only one embryo [elective single embryo transfer eSET], and in 70% of all transfers only one or two embryos were transferred. However, despite the reduction in the numbers of embryos transferred in one cycle, the pregnancy rate has remained the same or, in fact, in some countries actually improved.
"This is good news for mothers and babies, because multiple births are dangerous for both and can cause congenital problems in the offspring."
Dr Nyboe Andersen added: "New data from Finland and Sweden have demonstrated that single embryo transfer can be introduced on a national level without a decline in the ongoing pregnancy rate, but with a marked reduction in the multiple pregnancy rates. More than 50% of cycles in Finland and Sweden are single embryo transfer and the multiple delivery rate is approximately only 10% compared with ab
Contact: Mary Rice
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology