Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_91875

Australia reports drop in multiple births as more women opt for single embryo transfer

28 September 2009
Appeared in BioNews 527

A report published on 24 September 2009 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare ('the Institute') has indicated that although an increasing number of women are turning to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to assist with pregnancy, the number of multiple births is decreasing.

The Institute's statistics show that over the last five years, the use of ART has increased by approximately ten per cent each year. Now, around 3.1 per cent of all children born in Australia are a result of ART, such as IVF.

One of the most common risks associated with ART is that of multiple births. Improvement in single embryo transfer (SET) technology and a willingness between doctors and patients to implant a single embryo is linked to statistics indicating a reduction in multiple births. The number of multiple births as a result of ART has fallen from 19 per cent in 2003 to ten per cent in 2007. Simultaneously, the use of SET has increased from 32 per cent in 2003 to 64 per cent in 2007, as pointed out by Professor Peter Illingworth, President of the Fertility Society of Australia. Meanwhile, according to Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan of the Institute's National Perinatal Statistics Unit, clinical pregnancy rates have remained steady at around 22 per cent since 2002.

Professor Sullivan has commented that 'The decline in multiple births corresponds with an improvement in overall pregnancy and baby outcomes because multiple births increase the health risk for both mothers and babies'. This view has been corroborated by Professor Illingworth, who has said in reference to SET that 'it means that the biggest complication which many people associate with fertility treatment, that of multiple pregnancies, is gradually disappearing'. Multiple births are known to increase chances of premature delivery and low birth weight.

Australia has one of the highest SET usage rates internationally. 'Running at a multiple pregnancy rate of only 10 per cent is one of the lowest possible pregnancy rates in the world from IVF,' says Professor Illingworth.

Whilst the Institute and Fertility Society of Australia have focussed on the positive impact of ART, the report brought attention to the increased use ART which has attracted some negative commentary. Some have expressed the view that women are leaving the task of starting a family too late in order to focus on their careers first, thus leading to an increased risk of infertility. Professor Illingworth spoke out against these views saying, 'I find women just haven't had the opportunity to find the right partner…Very few have made the choice [to put their careers first]'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Careers not to blame for IVF
news.com.au |  25 September 2009
IVF more common, fewer twins
Science Alert |  25 September 2009
More IVF babies but fewer multiple births
ABC News |  25 September 2009
'More IVF babies but less multiple births'
The Australian |  24 September 2009
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
1 November 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Transferring only one embryo during IVF treatment significantly reduces the risk of multiple births without considerably altering a woman's chances of conceiving and having a baby, report Swedish researchers....
30 March 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
By Antony Blackburn-Starza: Two recent studies, published in the journal Human Reproduction last week, have revealed that implanting a single embryo during IVF procedures may result in improved pregnancy rates and could also be cheaper than when implanting two embryos. Although implanting two or more embryos can improve chances of...
9 March 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Public outrage over the IVF-conceived octuplets born in January to Nadya Suleman in California has led US legislators in Missouri and Georgia to propose laws that would limit the number of embryos a woman may have implanted when receiving a single fertility treatment. Georgia Senator Ralph Hudgens...
23 February 2009 - by Professor Joep Geraedts 
Whilst reading the Commentary by Norbert Gleicher recently published in BioNews (1), we were surprised and saddened that the same arguments given at the ESHRE annual meeting (2) last summer in Barcelona, were repeated without a clinical counterpart. ESHRE wishes to reaffirm its response to Gleicher last July; the complications...
23 February 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Last week the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which oversees all UK fertility services, wrote to the NHS Directors of Public Health to outline the importance of ensuring that commissioning strategies are consistent with the HFEA's new multiple births policy. The policy aims to 'more than...
26 January 2009 - by Norbert Gleicher 
On the European side of the Atlantic single embryo transfer (SET) is increasingly becoming standard practice. As a consequence of legislation, as in Belgium, of professional dogma, as in most Scandinavian countries, or the product of the regulatory prowess of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), as in the...
HAVE YOUR SAY
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.