Stronger IVF regulations 'may save lives'

Implanting only one embryo rather than two or more during IVF may reduce the risk of mother and baby suffering medical complications, a new study has shown.

Researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada found that if just one embryo was implanted it could result in as many as 40 fewer deaths and 46 fewer brain injuries in children born by IVF, resulting in 42,400 fewer days of NICU hospitalisation.

The results were gleaned from extensive examination of records in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Quebec.

Dr Keith Barrington and his investigative team said the high number may be because of the increased likelihood of multiple births in IVF treatments where more than one embryo is implanted. Many of the births are premature, which can lead to many medical complications.

He is now advocating new regulations restricting the number of embryos implanted during IVF. His suggestion has been implemented at fertility centres around Quebec since last year, and the twin rates have dropped from 30 per cent to 3.8 per cent.

The likelihood of multiple birth is up to 40 per cent for parents using IVF.

Posted by Phillip Briggs

Janvier, Annie et al. "The Epidemic of Multiple Gestations and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Use: The Cost of Irresponsibility." Journal of Paediatrics. 14th April 2011.

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