Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93992

Latest figures on fertility treatment, birth rate and multiple births are released

11 February 2013
Appeared in BioNews 692

Figures released by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reveal the number of IVF cycles performed each year has continued to rise while the overall multiple pregnancy and birth rate has declined.

Meanwhile, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the overall number of babies born in England and Wales has increased by more than a fifth in the past decade and the multiple birth rate in the general population has increased.

The HFEA reports that in 2011 48,147 women received 61,726 cycles of IVF or ICSI, around four percent more cycles than in 2010. The overall live birth rate per cycle has remained steady at around 24 percent between 2009 and 2010, with a long term increase from 14 percent in 1991 to 24.5 percent in 2010.

It also said that in 2011 six out of ten IVF cycles were funded privately, with no perceived change since 2010. Around three percent of women who had IVF or ICSI did so as part of an egg sharing agreement or to produce eggs or embryos for donation.

The ONS reports that with the exception of a small fall in 2009, births have been increasing every year since 2001. There were 723,913 live births in 2011, rising from 594,634 in 2001. According to the ONS, just over 16 in every 1,000 deliveries in 2011 were multiple births, compared to a rate of 14.8 a decade earlier.

Women aged 45 and over had the highest multiple pregnancy rate with an almost one in ten chance of giving birth to twins or triplets. In 2011, 11,330 women gave birth to twins and just three to quads or more.

The HFEA figures show that the overall multiple pregnancy rate following fertility treatment fell from 26.6 percent in 2008 to 20.1 percent in 2011, however. The greatest decrease was seen in women aged between 18 and 34 who accounted for the greatest increase in elective single embryo transfer.

Fertility treatment is far more likely to result in multiple births than natural conception. On average, around a quarter of IVF pregnancies result in multiple births compared to one percent among women who conceive naturally. Around 1.5 percent of all births in the UK each year are from IVF or ICSI.

As part of a national strategy to reduce the multiple birth rate, the HFEA adopted a policy to allow clinics to establish their own strategies to promote single embryo transfer for those considered to have the highest chances of conceiving, even when more are available. The HFEA also sets a maximum multiple birth rate for clinics, currently set at ten percent.

Explaining the rise in multiple births in the ONS figures, Dr Yacoub Khalaf, a consultant gynaecologist at the Assisted Conception Unit of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, told the Telegraph: 'It has long been recognised that most multiple pregnancies are from non-IVF treatment, which is mostly the use of stimulation drugs'.

'GPs and hospital consultants are prescribing these drugs and they can be quite generous. Doctors in the community can just give the drugs and hope for the best. If the process is not monitored rigorously enough you can end up with what we are observing here with these figures', Dr Khalaf explained.

He also said that increasing numbers of older mothers conceiving naturally and couples travelling abroad to receive unregulated fertility treatment may account for the rise in multiple pregnancies.

For women, multiple pregnancy carries an increased risk of miscarriage and pre-eclampsia, among other complications. In addition, half of all twins are born prematurely and are more likely to have cerebral palsy than single babies.

The HFEA collects data from clinics in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The ONS data is compiled for births in England and Wales only and will include births in these regions from fertility treatment presented by the HFEA.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Babies boom by a fifth in a decade - ONS
BBC News |  7 February 2013
Drugs used to boost the chances of a baby are causing a rise in multiple pregnancies: experts
Daily Telegraph |  7 February 2013
Latest figures show the number of IVF treatments continue to rise
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (press release) |  7 February 2013
Latest UK fertility treatment data and figures: 2010-2011
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority |  7 February 2013
Statistical Bulletin: Births in England and Wales by Characteristics of Birth 2, 2011 (pdf)
Office for National Statistics |  7 February 2013
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
4 April 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Pregnancy and live birth rates following IVF have continued to increase as the multiple-birth rate declines, according to the latest figures released by the HFEA...
9 December 2013 - by Dr Victoria Burchell 
A high level of twin, triplet and other multiple births in the USA may be down to a rise in fertility treatments like ovarian stimulation being used independently of IVF...
11 November 2013 - by Dr Steven Fleming 
Despite the views of several IVF experts that intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection is overused in IVF, it continues unabated. So why is nobody listening?...
2 September 2013 - by Daniel Malynn 
This episode of the BBC's 'The Midwives' documented some of the varying difficulties experienced by older and younger mothers...
13 May 2013 - by Dr Katie Howe 
The transfer of one pre-screened embryo during IVF leads to birth rates equivalent to transferring two unscreened embryos, indicates new research from the USA....
13 February 2012 - by Nishat Hyder 
The rate of multiple births resulting from IVF treatment is to be no more than ten percent, announced the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), in the final stage of its policy to reduce IVF multiple birth rates in the UK....
9 January 2012 - by Victoria Kay 
There has been a rise in the number of British women choosing to give birth to fewer children following multiple pregnancy, leading to renewed calls for restrictions on the number of embryos implanted during IVF....
3 October 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Hill 
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued new guidelines saying that women pregnant with twins or triplets should be monitored more closely, receiving specialist care from a team of healthcare professionals...
16 May 2011 - by Chris Chatterton 
The UK's fertility regulator published a report last Thursday that it says indicates its success at reducing multiple births from fertility treatment by promoting elective single embryo transfer (eSET)....
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in 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.