Europe leads the world for IVF treatment

June 26, 2000

The first report of results of in vitro fertilisation in Europe shows big variations between countries, with France, Germany and the UK carrying out more than half of all IVF treatments.

This was one of the conclusions to come out of the report which researchers presented today (Tuesday) at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Bologna, Italy.

Out of 200,000 treatment cycles carried out in 18 countries in 1997, over 100,000 were in France, Germany and UK, with the other 15 countries making up the rest.

However the availability of IVF treatment was highest in the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, with 1,500 treatments per million of the population occurring in Finland, compared with 580 for the UK and 330 for Portugal. IVF accounted for two per cent of all children born in the north.

Europe has been leading the way on IVF but until now has lacked a central reporting system which would enable doctors and others working in the field to compare data from different countries.

"More than 50 per cent of IVF treatment cycles world wide are carried out in Europe, yet until now we have had no IVF data collection programme. Our dominant position makes it even more important that we have a valid and comprehensive programme for Europe," Dr Karl Nygren told the ESHRE conference.

The ESHRE consortium of IVF researchers collected IVF data from 18 European countries, which were all running registers on their IVF results. This first report, prepared for the consortium by Dr Nygren, of the Sofia Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and Dr Anders Nyboe Andersen, of the Rikshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, covers IVF treatments during 1997 with pregnancy follow-up through 1998.

More than 200,000 treatment cycles in 500 clinics resulted in an estimated 50,000 children being born. France and the UK had the greatest numbers of IVF births, with 8,700 in each country. However the "take home" baby rates seemed to be fairly constant throughout Europe with approximately 22 per cent of treatment cycles resulting in a live birth.

The numbers of twin, triplet and quadruplet births varied considerably between countries. Higher multiple pregnancy rates were reported in southern and eastern European countries where triplet rates were seven per cent compared with only 0.8 per cent in northern European countries. The difference in these pregnancy rates is due to different policies in different countries concerning the number of embryos, which are replaced in the mother1s womb. Multiple pregnancies are riskier for both mothers and babies, and many doctors now try to avoid them wherever possible.

Overall rates were 25.6 per cent twins, 3.4 per cent triplets, and 0.2 per cent quadruplets, making a total of 29.2 per cent in Europe as whole. In the United States there are higher success rates for IVF, with 26 per cent of treatment cycles resulting in a live birth, but also a much higher multiple pregnancy rate of 39 per cent.

Dr Nygren, said: "We need to treat some of these figures with caution, because different countries within Europe have different data reporting systems and in some cases data were missing. However our report does show that Europe is leading the world in IVF treatment, and it is possible to draw some interesting comparisons between different European countries.

"The ESHRE consortium for IVF will continue to gather these data on an annual basis, as we believe they gives us valuable information which we can use to evaluate different IVF treatments. We also want to gather other types of data on things such as the well-being of IVF children, on the possible risks to women and also on the variations in funding for IVF between different countries," he said.
Note: The European IVF Monitoring Report will be presented at a special session on Tuesday, at 1pm (Italian time) in room 2 in Pavillion 21. You are welcome to attend.

Further information:
Margaret Willson, Emma Mason or Elisabetta Sestini (media information officers)
ESHRE Press office (Sunday 25 June -- Wednesday 28 June)
Tel: 39-51-353-168/260/043
Fax: 39-51-353-264

After Wednesday 28 June
Margaret Willson
Tel: 44-1536-772181
Fax: 44-1536-772191
Mobile: 44-973-853347

Emma Mason
Tel: 44-1376-563090
Fax: 44-1376-563272
Mobile: 44-7711-296986


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