Up until now, the authority had been able to put a condition on the licenses of clinics which didn’t keep their multiple birth rate below the set target – but this is now to be removed.
The Independent says that limits on the number of twins and triplets have been lifted, “following warnings from fertility experts that they harmed some women’s chances of becoming pregnant”. In fact, the HFEA’s own statement on the issue explains that the decision was taken because it was not appropriate for the two IVF clinics which had taken the legal case to be treated differently from all the others – and removing the licence condition gives a level playing field. Far from agreeing that limits on the number of multiple births should be lifted, what the Authority actually says is that clinics are still expected to get their multiple birth rate down to 10% in the interests of mothers and their babies.
Fortunately, most clinics appreciate the need to reduce multiple births and are working hard to ensure that those most at risk of a multiple pregnancy only have one embryo transferred. The best fertility clinics are able to do this effectively without reducing their overall success rates because they are only too aware that multiple birth is the biggest health risk from IVF. Prospective patients should always check the multiple birth rate of any clinic they are considering – and should be aware that a high success rate accompanied by a high multiple rate is a sign of a clinic that may not have your best interests at heart.