HFEA policy on multiple births


The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is the independent regulator of fertility treatment in the UK. The HFEA is committed to working with fertility centres and patients to reduce the health risks of multiple pregnancies from IVF treatment.

The aim of all fertility treatment should be the birth of a healthy, singleton baby. For some patients having one embryo transferred will give you the best chance of having a healthy singleton pregnancy and dramatically reduce the risks of having a multiple pregnancy.

What is the HFEA policy?

In January 2009, following an expert group report and public consultation, the HFEA introduced the following policy to minimise the risk of multiple pregnancies:

  • The HFEA’s overall aim is to reduce the UK IVF multiple birth rate to 10%.
  • From 2009 the HFEA, in consultation with an expert group, set a maximum multiple pregnancy/birth rate that centres should not exceed and this was gradually reduced each year.
  • All centres are required to have their own strategy for reducing and maintaining the multiple pregnancy/birth rate to 10% in their clinic. This strategy sets out how clinics can best identify patients for whom single embryo transfer is the best treatment option.

The HFEA policy is supported by a wider national strategy, involving professional bodies, patient groups and NHS-funding bodies, to reduce the risk of multiple births from all fertility treatment.

  • Find out who is part of the expert group
  • Read more about the public consultation
    • What does this mean for me?

      Your centre will discuss the risk of multiple births with you before you begin treatment. They will look at how likely you are to have a successful pregnancy and therefore how at risk you are from having a multiple pregnancy.

      They will use criteria such as your age, whether you have had previous treatment or previous pregnancies, and the number and quality of embryos you have available to transfer.

      If your centre thinks there is a high chance of you becoming pregnant, and therefore are most at risk of having a multiple pregnancy, they are likely to recommend you have a single embryo transferred.

      The HFEA policy is not a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach. The HFEA does not set criteria for who should have single embryo transfer or make all patients have single embryo transfer. How many embryos to transfer is a clinical decision made on an individual basis by centres with each patient.

      Further information

      If you have further questions about the HFEA multiple births policy, please email the HFEA enquiries team at enquiriesteam@hfea.gov.uk