IVF twins: buy one get one free? (Mittal) (published online 18 July)
The aim of IVF treatment should be to achieve a full-term singleton birth. This article explores the tensions that exist between IVF provision and the elective single embryo transfer (eSET) policy. The authors present a balanced contemporary review describing why twin pregnancies are undesirable yet may be a risk couples are willing to take. They go on to discuss the issues faced when considering strategies to reduce twin pregnancies and the tensions that exist with the eSET policy. Blanket eSET implementation appears not be a simple answer to avoid twin pregnancies. from Scott Wilkes, Associate Editor
1 in 7 couples in the UK have infertility problems
Most people growing up assume that, if and when they want children, they will be able to have them. They don’t expect to have problems with fertility, and assume that, if they do the wonders of modern fertility treatments, such as IVF and ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) will be able to solve them. However, in contrast to this, background figures point to 1 in 7 couples in the UK having fertility problems. This is according to new research published by the Health Experiences Research Group at the University of Oxford and available from healthtalkonline. The research team was founded by Ann McPherson (who sadly died in May 2011) and headed by Sue Ziebland and Louise Locock.
ESHRE 2012 Reports highlight fertility issues
UK still trails behind Europe in number of IVF cycles – yet it all started here.
As the number of babies worldwide born thanks to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) – breaks the 5 million barrier for the first time, figures show that the UK is still lagging behind many of its European neighbours in numbers of treatment cycles per year. A report presented at ESHRE 2012 shows that the UK carries out 879 cycles/million inhabitants per year, which is significantly lower than many other countries including Denmark (2,726 cycles/million), Belgium (2,562 cycles/million) and Slovenia (1,840 cycles/million).
The pioneering treatment, which hit the headlines worldwide back in 1978 with the birth of Louise Brown in Oldham, has dramatically reduced the devastating burden of infertility, benefitting millions of couples both in the UK and worldwide.
However, for thousands of couples here, the dream of having a child of their own remains elusive: many are denied IVF because their Primary Care Trust or Health Board is reluctant to fund sufficient treatment. Around three quarters of all PCTs in England still don’t offer the 3 full cycles of IVF as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Leading national infertility charity supports new research on Single Embryo Transplant (SET)
Leading patient charity, Infertility Network UK (IN UK), has backed new research presented at the annual meeting of ESHRE, which shows that a policy of single embryo transfer reduces the risk of perinatal death in infants born after IVF and ICSI.
The report is based on analysis of more than 50,000 births recorded in the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Technology Database from 2004-2008, where the introduction of SET seems to have reduced overall perinatal mortality for IVF and ICSI babies.
Said Clare Lewis-Jones, Chief Executive of IN UK and Chair of Fertility Europe: “We welcome a move towards SET, and this report gives the medical profession more evidence to encourage patients to accept SET, which reduces the risks of multiple births to both mother and babies and gives the best possible outcome – one healthy baby.
“However, it must go hand in hand with full implementation of the NICE clinical guidelines which recommend up to three full cycles of treatment, including any frozen embryo transfers (FET). Other European countries which routinely offer five and six cycles of treatment have successfully implemented SET, and it is high time that patients in the UK are offered access to the level of treatment recommended by NICE nearly eight years ago!
“Many PCTs here still fall short of the recommendations and it is totally unacceptable and unethical for some PCTs to offer only one cycle of treatment and not to include FET for patients.”