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IVF Twins May Soon be a Thing of the Past

Soon there may be a ban on having twins through IVF treatment because intensive care units are being swamped by the many newborns.//

A group of leading doctors have proposed that would-be mothers should l be allowed to have only one embryo implanted at a time.

Although adopting this plan could lessen the women’s chances of having a successful pregnancy the group has stated the need to reduce the large increase in IVF twins, who are blocking neonatal intensive-care beds.

Currently women are allowed to have two embryos implanted to increase their chances of success, but this has brought about a near doubling in twin births to 9,500 a year since the late 1970s.

In addition mothers of twins are at a six times greater risk of suffering from pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy — and three times more likely to die in childbirth. Twins are also four times more likely to die within 28 days of birth as well as five times more likely to have cerebral palsy as single babies.

According to Professor Peter Braude, who chairs the expert group for the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said twins were “a complication, not a bonus”. He said, “The public does not realise that twins are a health risk. The need to tackle the problem is unequivocal. Neonatal units are stretched to the extent that you cannot always get your baby into one.

“If you deliver your baby in London, you find the baby is being shipped off to Northampton. We need to separate mother and baby or one twin from another. If we could lower the multiple pregnancy rate, we would have more cots available. It is stopping other babies getting into neonatal units.”

The group is expected to give recommendations of a single embryo implantation at a time in women under 35, whereas remaining embryos are to be frozen for transplanting should the first attempt at pregnancy meets with failure.

Private IVF clinics are also expected to come under this proposal because the HFEA licenses all clinics, not just those on the National Health Service. It has been estimated that about 30,000 couples have IVF each year.

This group is expected to suggest funding of implantation another frozen embryo if the first attempt fails.


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