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In Vitro Fertilisation

Question for Department of Health

UIN HL2643, tabled on 4 November 2014

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 23 January 2013 (HL4388), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority still considers that multiple pregnancy poses "the single greatest health risk associated with fertility treatment"; what records they hold on foetal reduction in the first trimester and early in the second trimester; what assessment they have made of the impact of such procedures on the incidence of complications otherwise associated with multiple pregnancy; and what was the average mortality rate of (1) singleton, (2) twin, and (3) triplet, pregnancies in the United Kingdom over each year of the past decade for which records are available.

Answered on

17 November 2014

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it and all of the relevant professional bodies support the One at a time initiative, which aims to reduce the incidence of multiple births following in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). The consensus statement signed in 2011 states that “Multiple births is the single biggest risk to the health and welfare of children born following fertility treatment”:

www.oneatatime.org.uk/images/2011-05_Multiple_Births_Consensus_Statement_-_FINAL.pdf

The HFEA holds records on foetal reductions carried out in the first trimester and early in the second trimester following each cycle of IVF or donor insemination in the UK.

When developing its policy on multiple births the HFEA commissioned an Expert Group on Multiple Births after IVF, which concluded that the prevention of multiple pregnancies through single embryo transfer should be preferred to multifetal pregnancy reduction.

Information on average mortality rates for singleton, twin and triplet pregnancies is not collected centrally. The information that is available is shown in the following table.

Stillbirths and linked infant deaths rates: babies born in each year 2002 to 2011, plurality,

England and Wales 1,2,3,4

Stillbirth

Infant

Year

Singletons

Twins

Triplets

Singletons

Twins

Triplets

2002

5.3

15.7

44.6

4.7

23.1

40.6

2003

5.4

17.6

52.5

4.7

23.5

63.7

2004

5.4

14.8

51.8

4.5

21.6

61.8

2005

5.1

13.2

29.7

u

4.4

23.5

54.1

2006

5.1

11.8

24.2

u

4.4

21.7

67.0

2007

5.0

11.2

19.7

u

4.2

19.9

50.3

2008

4.9

11.6

28.7

u

4.1

20.0

55.2

2009

4.9

12.2

31.5

u

4.0

20.1

34.9

u

2010

4.9

11.4

15.8

u

3.8

18.4

62.1

2011

5.0

10.9

15.5

u

3.7

18.8

21.7

u

Notes:

1 Stillbirths per 1,000 live births and stillbirths. Infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

2 Excludes babies born to non-residents.

3 Rates based on between 3 and 19 deaths (inclusive) are distinguished by 'u' as a warning that their reliability may be affected by the small number of events.

4 Information is not available for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Source: Office for National Statistics