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Multiple birth costs should be met by clinics, says Deech

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

17 April 2002

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[BioNews, London] Ruth Deech, former Chair of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has said that fertility clinics ought to pay towards the costs of twins and triplets born as a result of fertility treatments. She stated that financial penalties on clinics were necessary to 'curb practices in the multimillion-pound industry that creates too many multiple births'.

It is estimated that the National Health Service (NHS) has to provide ?60 million per year to pay for the care needed following multiple births. Twins and triplets are more likely to need intensive care treatment when they are born than singletons. In an interview with The Times newspaper, Mrs Deech says that the NHS has to 'carry the burden of multiple births' resulting from IVF treatment. One way to counter the problem would be to introduce a compulsory insurance scheme for fertility clinics.

Fertility clinics increase the chances of a successful pregnancy by implanting more than one IVF embryo. However, this has had the dual effect of causing more multiple births. In response to this, the HFEA issued guidelines last year saying that a maximum of two embryos could be implanted in all but the most exceptional cases.

Some fertility specialists say that Mrs Deech's suggestion would be detrimental for a number of women seeking IVF treatments, especially women over 35-years old, who may need to have three or more embryos implanted in order to achieve pregnancy. Peter Brinsden, of Bourn Hall Clinic, Cambridge, said that it would discourage doctors from implanting even two embryos, because of the risk, albeit small, of one of them dividing and creating triplets. Other fertility doctors have welcomed the comments. Professor Gedes Grudzinskas, of the Bridge Centre in London, said it would stop doctors implanting too many embryos 'in an attempt to move up the success tables'.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 17 April 2002   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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