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Doctors support efforts to reduce multiple IVF births

A recent article in The Vancouver Sun highlighted the risks related to multiple births resulting from in vitro fertilization (IVF). In a newly published statement, the IVF Medical Directors of Canada say that they are supporting efforts within fertility clinics to reduce the multiple pregnancy rate by performing more single embryo transfers. Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple births after IVF in the world. Often, because of the high costs of IVF treatment, patients want their fertility doctors to transfer more than one embryo to increase the chances of treatment resulting in a pregnancy.

However, multiple births increase the risks to the mother and infant. Risks to the mother include miscarriage, high blood pressure, kidney damage, and post-partum hemorrhage while risks to the infant include premature birth, low birth weight, respiratory distress, infections, and other health problems.

Researchers suggest that the only way to lower the “epidemic” of multiple births in Canada is to eliminate the restrictive costs of IVF, which drive patients to opt to transfer more embryos in order to “maximize” their treatment cycle.

In Quebec in July 2010, the government began paying for up to three cycles of IVF with a single embryo transfer in order to reduce multiple pregnancy rates and the resulting burden on the medical system. The multiple pregnancy rate has been greatly reduced since the start of this program.

Want more information about IVF? Read our question on IVF in our Assisted Reproduction section.

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