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Italians revealed as Europe's biggest fertility tourists

28 June 2010
Appeared in BioNews 564

Couples from Italy are at the top of the list of foreign couples seeking fertility treatment abroad, researchers reported today at the 26th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), in Rome.

Researchers surveyed foreign couples from 44 fertility clinics across six European states, including Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Denmark. Participating clinics represented 50 per cent of all centres that accept foreign couples. The findings revealed that of 1,230 couples receiving treatment abroad, Italian couples comprised 32 per cent of the total.

'Cross Border Reproductive Care is a phenomenon observed across Europe, but in Italy it seems to be undertaken far more frequently', said Dr Anna Pia Ferraretti, an Italian member of the ESHRE Task Force.

'In general, we estimate that Italian couples seek approximately 10,000 treatment cycles outside of Italian borders every year'.

Dr Ferraretti said it was 'no surprise' to the authors to learn that Italian couples topped the list. At the time of the study, Italy had one of the more restrictive approaches towards fertility treatment. The study found that 40 per cent of Italian couples surveyed accessed treatments that were, at the time, prohibited in Italy.

But changes made by the Italian Constitutional Court last year have removed many of the previous limitations on ART (assisted reproductive technology).

Dr Ferraretti concluded that: 'Thanks to the new legislation we hope that many of the couples who previously travelled abroad for treatment will now stay at home and receive treatment in Italian centres'.

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