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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 13:20 GMT
Fertility drug use booms in China
Babies in hospital
Twins and triplets are exempt from the restrictions
Wealthy couples in China are turning to fertility drugs in growing numbers, with a report suggesting some may be using it to beat the one child policy.

One hospital has reportedly seen the number of women giving birth to twins or triplets soar in recent years.

For the last 25 years China has sought to curb the growth of its vast population by restricting many couples to having just one child.

However, exceptions are made in the cases of multiple births such as twins.

According to a report in the China Daily, a hospital in the eastern city of Nanjing has seen the number of twins and triplets jump from a yearly average of 20 sets to 90 sets in 2005.

"More women are taking fertility medicine to help them become pregnant," Gu Ling, director of the Maternal and Child Hygiene Hospital in Nanjing, told the paper.

Sexes imbalance

The trend is also being seen among well-off couples in other cities around China, the report says.

Many women are using fertility treatment because they cannot conceive, but others do so in a deliberate attempt to bear more babies, the report says.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing says that the sale of fertility drugs to people without a prescription is illegal, but that does not seem to be stopping anyone.

Many pharmacies in cities like Nanjing sell the drugs freely, without ever demanding a prescription, the China Daily said.

China launched its one-child policy in 1970 and claims it has been successful in slowing the growth of the country's ballooning population, which currently stands at over 1.3 billion.

However, human rights groups say the policy has taken a toll in forced abortions and sterilisation and even infanticide.

Additionally, a preference for boys has created a massive imbalance in the ratio of male to female children.

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