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Tuesday, 24 April, 2001, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Court bid fails for IVF woman
ivf
The number of embryos which should be used is in question
A 46-year-old woman has failed to overturn guidelines which she claimed reduced her chances of an IVF baby.

The woman, who has not been named, had sought judicial review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) guidelines, which prevent clinics from implanting more than three fertilised embryos.

While any more than this is acknowledged to substantially increase the risk of triplets or quadruplets in younger women, it was claimed there was no risk of multiple births in a woman of her age.

The clinic taking the court action on her behalf said that following eight failed attempts using three embryos, her chances of having a baby with this few were slim.

However, the High Court rejected this argument.

'No arguable case'

But Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, decided there was no arguable case to go to a full hearing and dismissed the application. He said he would give his reasons on Wednesday.

Nigel Pleming QC, appearing for the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in London, which is backing the action, described the current restrictions as "absurd and irrational".

Mr Mohammed Taranissi, the director of the clinic, said that an application to the Court of Appeal was likely.

He told BBC News Online: "This is a matter of principle and, if nothing else, it will make people think about the issue.

He said of the woman patient involved: "She is obviously very disappointed. She knows her chances were not good regardless or not of whether the court case succeeded."

The current HFEA regulations, which have been in place for ten years, are actually more flexible than recommendations from experts at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which says that only two embryos should be implanted.

The HFEA has no direct powers to enforce the three embryo rules, but does have powers to investigate the conduct of clinics who breach it, and ultimately, control over their licensing.

A spokesman for the HFEA welcomed the ruling, saying: "We have always been concerned about the high numbers of multiple births associated with fertility treatment.

"We believe that putting more than three embryos back in would be inappropriate."

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See also:

23 Apr 01 | Health
Embryo campaigners head for court
30 Mar 01 | Health
IVF risk after cancer treatment
23 Feb 01 | Health
20,000 for extra IVF baby
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