HFEA public consultation

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) consultation on the best way to reduce avoidable problems for in vitro fertilisation ( IVF) children and their mothers after IVF treatment followed a report by a group of experts, including fertility clinicians and patients, chaired by Professor Peter Braude from King’s College London.

The group agreed that IVF children must be given a better chance to be born as healthy, full-term, singletons with a normal birth weight. The Braude report further recommended that the only safe way to reduce the risk for IVF babies was to move towards transferring one embryo in women with the best chance of IVF success.

This would not mean that all women would have a single embryo transferred or that double embryo transfers would be banned. Instead, they suggested that a woman with a good chance of IVF success should have her embryos implanted one at a time, with frozen cycles following the initial fresh transfer, to reduce the risk multiple births pose to herself and the children she might carry.

What did the consultation involve?

In April 2007, the HFEA launched the public consultation.

Both patients and professionals were consulted over the following three months to find the best way of reducing the proportion of multiple births after IVF whilst still allowing clinicians to tailor their treatment to each woman’s individual circumstances and without prejudicing her chances of IVF success.

Public meetings for both patients and clinicians were held during the consultation to allow debate and further feedback into the consultation.

What did the consultation paper contain?

The consultation paper proposed four main options to help clinics reduce multiple birth rates:

  • Increasing awareness of multiple births risks among clinics and patients and encourage increased use of single embryo transfer.
  • To phase in a maximum twin rate of 10% which clinics must not exceed.
  • To develop HFEA guidance to define when only one embryo should be replaced.
  • To apply HFEA guidance for single embryo transfer if clinics exceed twin rate of 10%.

A number of key professional bodies and patient organisations participated in the public consultation and the meetings to give their views on the best way to make IVF safer. The consultation produced a report in autumn 2007.

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