experts issued recommendations on Wednesday to reduce the
rising number of twin births in cases of in-vitro
fertilization, including the transfer of only one
embryo into the womb.
In a report
presented to the nation's fertility watchdog, the panel of
experts said research has shown that limiting the number of
embryos transferred can reduce the number of twins
born through in-vitro fertilization without changing
the overall success rate.
is the single biggest risk to children born as a
result of IVF," Professor Peter Braude of Kings College in
London and the chair of the panel told a news
Some patients and
clinics opt for transferring two embryos to increase
the odds of success, but Braude said the rate of twins can
be reduced by limiting the number to one without
damaging a woman's chance of conceiving. "The overall
pregnancy rate is the same," he said.
The expert group
identified two main options in the report. One would be
to set a maximum twin birth rate of, for example,
5%-10% for fertility clinics.
The other is for
single embryo transfer for women who are more likely to
have twins. This would be determined by the woman's age, the
quality of embryos produced, and other factors.
But Braude added
that for some women, single embryo transfer may not be
the best option.
presented their findings to a meeting of the Human
fertilization and Embryology Authority watchdog on
About 25% of IVF
births in the United Kingdom are twins, They are
more likely than single babies to be premature, which
increases their odds of suffering medical and
The risk of death
in the first week of life is five times higher for
twins than a single baby. Twins are also around six times
more likely to suffer from cerebral palsy and have a
higher risk of congenital abnormalities, according to
also pose a danger for the mother. Twin births carry a
higher risk of miscarriage, bleeding, early labor, caesarean
delivery, and preeclampsia, a complication that occurs
in about 5% of pregnancies.
Ledger, a fertility specialist at the University of
Sheffield and a panel member, said the medical costs
resulting from twins births are 16 times more than
those for a single birth.
He estimated that
reducing multiple births resulting from IVF could save
enough money to fund 7,500 extra cycles of IVF, which could
produce 2,000 children.
Barratt, of the University of Birmingham Medical School,
said the United Kingdom should be aiming for a twin
birth rate of about 5%. "One quarter of live births
are currently twins. Even though this is perceived as
a success, the truth is that it's much better for all
concerned to have one child at a time," he said in a
statement in reaction to the report. (Reuters)