Public Release: 

Doctors perform more IVF treatments, but multiple births decline

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

Lausanne, Switzerland: The latest figures on in vitro fertilization in Europe reveal the welcome news that while the number of IVF treatment cycles has increased, the number of multiple births is decreasing.

Dr Karl Nygren and Dr Anders Nyboe Andersen told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Lausanne today (Tuesday, 3 July) that figures gathered by the ESHRE consortium of IVF researchers from 18 European countries showed that treatment cycles had increased by 14% to 232,225 between 1997 and 1998. The largest increase was in Germany, Italy, Russia and Belgium.

The total number of multiple births had decreased during the same period from 29.6% to 26.3% per embryo transfer. Of these, the proportion of twin deliveries had fallen from 25.8% to 23.9%, and the proportion of triplet births had fallen from 3.6% to 2.3%.

Dr Nygren, of the Sofia Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, said: "Multiple pregnancies are risky for both the mother and the fetuses, so it is very good news that the number of multiple births is decreasing. Health professionals are pleased about this, and patients should be too.

"Furthermore, although the number of multiple deliveries has decreased, the average pregnancy rate has risen over the same period from 26% to 27%. This means that although fewer embryos are being transferred to the mother, the efficacy of IVF treatment has remained roughly the same. This is very good news."

This is the second year that the ESHRE consortium of IVF researchers has collected data from the European countries that are running registers on their IVF results. The report is prepared by Dr Nygren and his colleague Dr Andersen who is from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark. It covers IVF treatments during 1998 with pregnancy follow-up through 1999.

The consortium has been encouraged in its work with the news that the number of clinics reporting their results has risen by 8% to 521 out of a total of approximately 700 clinics.

The report shows that France, Germany and the UK continue to perform more IVF treatment cycles than all the other European countries put together; France and Germany have carried out 46,000 each and the UK 35,000, which amounts to more than 50% of all cycles.

Availability is still highest in the Nordic countries, with Denmark now in the lead, having overtaken Finland. Denmark reports 1608 treatments per million inhabitants, compared with France which reports 791 per million, and the UK, 595 per million.

The proportion of IVF children out of all children born has increased in all countries where information is available. In Iceland it is 3.79% versus 3.45% in 1997, Denmark 3% versus 2.63%, Finland 2.77% versus 2.39%, Sweden 2.42% versus 2.25%, Norway 1.7% versus 1.3%, France 1.29% versus 1.21%, and the UK 1.14% versus 1.04%.

The mean pregnancy rate increased slightly from 26.1% to 27% per embryo transfer.

Dr Nygren said: "The data we have collected shows some interesting trends, particularly in relation to the decrease in multiple births. We are pleased that more countries are reporting their IVF results; there has been a big increase in reporting in Germany. In addition, two countries have agreed to join the consortium for the first time: Ireland and the Ukraine. Austria and Slovakia are also considering joining."

He added: "We do need to treat some of the data with caution, because different countries within Europe have different data reporting systems. However, it is possible to gain valuable insight into trends in Europe from this report."

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Note: The European IVF Monitoring Report will be presented in the "Barcelone" room from 15.30 to 16.30 hrs CET on Tuesday 3 July. You are welcome to attend.

Further information:

Margaret Willson, information officer Emma Mason, information officer
Tel: 44-1536-772181 Tel: 44-1376-563090
Fax: 44-1536-772191 Fax: 44-1376-563272
Mobile: 07973-853347 Mobile: 07711-296986
Email: m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk Email: m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk

Press Office: (Sunday 1 July -Wednesday 4 July)
Margaret Willson, Emma Mason, Janet Blümli
Tel: 41-21-643-33-33 or 41-21-643-33-32 or 41-21-643-33-23
Fax: 41-21-643-33-28

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