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IVF risks need to be highlighted and better reported, suggests editorial

31 January 2011
Appeared in BioNews 593

Deaths related to IVF treatment should be better reported to stop them increasing, say the authors of a British Medical Journal (BMJ) editorial. The editorial argues IVF may be riskier than unassisted pregnancy or abortion, although deaths related to IVF remain rare. More stringent reporting could reveal ways to reduce these deaths.

'More stringent attention to stimulation regimens, preconceptual care, and pregnancy management is needed so that maternal death and severe morbidity do not worsen further', said the authors, led by consultant obstetrician Dr Susan Bewley from Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in London.

Pregnancy and IVF treatment records should be officially linked to prevent IVF-related deaths being underestimated, Dr Bewley and colleagues argue. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK's fertility regulator, prohibits record linkage.

The editorial also argues more information should be given to patients about the risks of fertility treatment and IVF practitioners need to get better at identifying women in high-risk groups. They also advocate greater use of single embryo transfer, to avoid the problems caused by multiple pregnancies.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Deaths from IVF are rare but relevant
BMJ Editorial: Adverse outcomes from IVF |  26 September 2020
IVF and abortion claim similar number of women's lives a year: BMJ
Daily Telegraph |  28 January 2011
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